Paul Casey leads European Open as American stars struggle in first round

Paul Casey defied a golf course that was difficult and conditions to maintain the outright lead at the Porsche European Open.
Casey birdied five of the last eight holes at the Green Eagle Golf Club in Hamburg to cap a high quality, six-under 66 and also earn a one-shot lead within an in-form Matthias Schwab, whereas Xander Schauffele, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar all ended the round over par.
Schauffele is best put on one over, together with Kuchar and Reed, who birdied the last three holes, one stroke further back, even though a two-over 74 was still good enough for a place in the top 50 as just 22 players beat the par of 72.
This was an indication of how good Casey’s 66 was, the Englishman starting with a birdie before hitting back from his lone bogey of the round at the sixth with a superb approach to the seventh and a putt to match.
Casey picked up another shot in the long 11th before making back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14 and, though he was not able to take advantage of the lengthy 15th, he atoned at the 16th and 18th in an odd closing stretch in which three of their final four holes are par-fives.
The Ryder Cup star will sleep on the lead ahead of Schwab, who continued to produce the kind that has made the top-eight finishes at the Czech Republic and Switzerland where he led a star-studded field after an opening 63.
Schwab’s card featured four birdies and an eagle at the 15th, while dropping only 1 shot on a day in which only two players returned bogey-free rounds, although he was not able to create his four at the mid — his final — since he settled for second place before Ben Stow, Bob MacIntyre and Max Rottluff.
The goal that was first was place by stow beneath despite beginning his round with a double-bogey six in the 10th, the Englishman enjoying an remarkable comeback with an eagle at 15 and four birdies as he belied his standing of 274th to Dubai.
Rising Scottish talent MacIntyre, runner-up twice this year and sixth at The 148th Open, wrapped in his sixth birdie putt of the day in the ninth to finish his 68, although the highlight of Rottluff’s opener was a pitch for an eagle-two in the seventh as he led the house challenge.
Kuchar, Reed and Schauffele have a ground to make up after all left erratic starts, although england’s Ben Evans birdied three of the last five holes to coincide with the 69s of both Lucas Herbert and Alex Bjork.
Schauffele began with a six at the 10th but then made five birdies in seven holes round a blemish in the 16th because he attained two under at the turn, however the entire world no more 9 — the highest-ranked player in the field this week — blotted his card three times on the front nine and didn’t add to his birdie tally because he signed for a 73.
Kuchar birdied the final to go back a 74, while former champions winner Reed endured a torrid start when he triple-bogeyed the next and was five over with three to play with, however, he dug deep to birdie 16, 17 and 18 to salvage a 74 and offer himself a positive momentum to consider his early beginning on Friday.

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