Blistering back nine gives Detry the edge as Casey encounters early European Open issues

By Sports Desk June 05, 2021

Thomas Detry launched an early assault on the European Open with a sublime back nine in Saturday's first round, at odds with an underwhelming effort from defending champion Paul Casey.

The event returns this weekend having been cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But 2019 winner Casey soon found himself facing an uphill struggle in his bid to defend a European Tour title for the first time in his career.

Both Englishman Casey and Belgian Detry – without an honour on the European Tour – started from the 10th and they each reached the turn one over par.

From there, though, their fortunes differed drastically.

Detry made seven birdies across a stunning stretch, his progress checked only by a disappointing double-bogey at the third – "one of the easiest holes," he said – that meant he carded a four-under 68.

That was enough for the outright lead, ahead of Ashun Wu, Alexander Bjork, David Law and Ashley Chesters – all a single shot back.

On the other hand, Casey stumbled to a dismal three-over 75 as he failed to add to his early birdie at the 11th and instead dropped two more shots.

Yet his was far from the worst round of a former champion, as 2018 winner Richard McEvoy had a triple-bogey and three doubles en route to an 84.

Alexander Levy has twice played in a play-off for the title – winning in 2016 but losing at Green Eagle the following year – yet is highly unlikely to feature in the running again in 2021 after his 80.

Ross Fisher, beaten by Levy in 2016 having taken the championship eight years earlier, was a shot worse off at nine over.

Those struggling stars might look to Detry for inspiration, but the leader feels the brutal Hamburg course suits his game.

"It's completely different, it's very major," he said. "I played the US PGA two weeks ago and it's a similar approach.

"You have to drive it on the fairway otherwise it's really penalising. In a way, that’s golf that suits me a bit more.

"I tend to struggle on easy courses where you're forced to make birdies otherwise you're losing ground, and it's a completely different approach on this golf course."

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