Sami Välimäki Takes 2-Shot Lead After The Opening Round Of The Czech Masters

VYSOKY UJEZD, Czech Republic (AP) — Sami Välimäki shot a 9-under 63 to take a two-stroke lead after the opening round of the Czech Masters on Thursday.

The Finn, who is seeking his second European tour title, started on the back nine by making five straight birdies. He went on to add to four more birdies on the front fine for a bogey-free round at the Albatross Golf Resort near Prague.

“I was just flowing,” Välimäki said. “When you start putting good and hitting it good, you just keep going and enjoy the round.”

Five players are two shots back in a tie for second.

They are Sweden’s Alexander Björk, Denmark’s Nicolai Højgaard, England’s Todd Clements, Japan’s Ryo Hisatsune and Maximilian Schmitt of Germany.

Björk put together his round while playing together with European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald. A total of 14 players at the Czech Masters still can reach the final place on the European Points List to make the Ryder Cup team, and there’s still a chance for players to impress Donald.

“There are definitely some spots open,” Donald said.

Robert MacIntyre of Scotland and Yannik Paul of Germany, who are currently third and fourth, respectively, in the European Points List, were tied for seventh, three shots behind the leader.

The Czech Masters and the forthcoming European Masters in Switzerland are the last two European events before Donald names his captain’s picks on Sept 4.

Europe faces the U.S. at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, starting on Sept 25.