SANTO ANTONIO DA SERRA, Portugal – Lloyd Saltman of Scotland shot an 8-under 64 to match his best round Thursday, taking a two-shot lead after the first day of the Madeira Islands Open on the European Tour.
Saltman was the first golfer off the morning tee and birdied four of his first five holes. He finished with nine birdies and one bogey on a windy day at the Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra.
''I'm very pleased with my round,'' Saltman said. ''It wasn't easy out there today, with the wind swirling and getting very strong at certain points.
''I have put myself in a great position and I'm here to win,'' he added. ''I've been working very hard trying to get my game as good as I can and it's nice to see the work paying off.''
England's Richard Bland is two shots behind. Chile's Mark Tullo, Scotland's Craig Lee and Sweden's Joakim Lagergren are three back.
Despite swirling ocean winds at Madeira, which sits almost 1,000 feet above sea level, Saltman, 27, birdied the first, then made three more in a row from the third hole, and another birdie at the ninth took him to the turn in 5 under. Saltman, a picture of calmness throughout his opening round, gained another shot at the 11th before mistakenly hitting the wrong wedge into the green at the 12th and subsequently falling to his first bogey of the day.
He bounced straight back, however, as a birdie at the 13th cancelled out his only blemish of the day, before two more birdies on the way home earned him the lead.
Bland carded seven birdies, but credited his good score to a number of crucial par saves.
“It wasn’t easy out there, it was pretty tricky," he said. "I putted great though, made some good birdie putts and made three or four nice par saves and you have to do that when it’s tricky so I'm very happy.
“I think the most important putt was the par save at 18 (his ninth). I thought I had hit a good shot into the green but the wind left it alone and it went over the green. I chipped to about 12 feet and holed it for par."