Golf: Opening round sees tight leaderboard at European Open

Charl Schwartzel tees off during the third round of the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Birkdale, on July 22, 2017.
Charl Schwartzel tees off during the third round of the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Birkdale, on July 22, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

Hamburg (AFP) - Charl Schwartzel impressed on the opening day of the European Open in Hamburg on Thursday, as American Julian Suri and Richard McEvoy took a share of the lead.

Suri carded five birdies on the back nine for a 66 to sit alongside England's McEvoy, who posted a bogey-free effort, on six-under par.

South African Schwartzel is just a stroke further back on five-under par, alongside defending champion Alexander Levy, Chris Paisley and Welshman Stuart Manley.

Schwartzel, the highest-ranked player in the field at world No. 21, took full advantage of the par fives to sign for an excellent round of 67.

The former 2011 Masters winner eagled the 15th hole and birdied the 18th after starting on the back nine.

A closing birdie on the par-five ninth could have been far better, after his second shot with a fairway wood hit the flag stick before settling 25 feet from the cup.

"On 18, I hit a fantastic shot and then finishing off today on nine, I hit the flag again with two fairway woods and that doesn't happen very often, but you know I played well this morning," he told europeantour.com.

American Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed, making a rare appearance on the European Tour, mixed five birdies with one bogey in a round of 68 to sit in a nine-strong group on four-under.