Golf: Kofstad set pace at Wales Open

Norway's Espen Kofstad produced a blistering finish to top the leaderboard after the first round of the Wales Open on Thursday.

Playing with European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley on the day qualification for next year's side began, Challenge Tour winner Kofstad birdied the 15th, 16th and 17th before producing an eagle three at the last at Celtic Manor.

That saw the Norwegian finish with a seven-under-par 64 over the Twenty ten Course that hosted The Ryder Cup three years ago.

Kofstad finished the day two shots clear of England's Chris Wood and Australian Richard Green, with Tjaart Van Der Walt, Mark Foster and Gregory Bourdy on four under.

McGinley had started the points race with a bogey, but recovered to shoot a one under 70 and high-fived the 26-year-old Kofstad after holing a bunker shot on the last.

"What a finish," McGinley said of Kofstad. "To finish birdie, birdie, birdie, eagle is fantastic.

"He hit it a million miles, hit a lot of fairways, played very well and he deserved that score."

Kofstad won the Challenge Tour last season but is 149th on The Race to Dubai after missing eight cuts in succession following his only top-ten finish of the year at the Spanish Open in April.

A neck injury also forced him to withdraw from the French Open but working with a sports psychologist has seemingly had the desired effect.

"I have been very, very calm the last two weeks," Kofstad said. "I started to settle down a bit.

"I had been a bit stressed and tentative and wasn't able to practice as much as I wanted to with my neck injury."