Denmark’s Joachim Hansen shot a six-under 66 to take the early lead on a day of low scoring in the opening round of the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final at Almouj Golf on Wednesday, while current Road to Oman Rankings leader Ricardo Gouveia opened with an impressive bogey-free 67 to lurk just one stroke behind.

“It’s a perfect start, I wanted to put myself in a good position for the next three days,” said Hansen, who is currently 17th in the Road to Oman Rankings and in with a great chance of finishing in the all-important top 15 to secure promotion to The European Tour.

Hansen was in an all Dane group with good friends Mads Sogaard and Jeff Winter on a day when the coastal wind at Almouj Golf declined to make an appearance, which made for some low scores across the board.

Hansen has previous experience of battling it out for a Grand Final title, having narrowly missed out to Epsen Kofstad in Italy during his debut season on the European Challenge Tour in 2012. He finished fourth on the rankings that year to seal promotion to the European Tour, where he played for two seasons. But despite having experienced the big time, he insists there is no added weight of expectation on him to secure promotion this week.

Gouveia, meanwhile, got off to the perfect start in his bid to be crowned European Challenge Tour No 1. The Portuguese showed the kind of consistency, which has seen him sit atop the rankings for much of the season with a blemish-free round.

“I hit the ball really well today and holed a few good putts that kept the momentum of the round going,” said Gouveia who is 115th in the Official World Golf Ranking, making him the highest ranked Portuguese player of all time. “I missed one shot, which could have resulted in a bogey, but it didn’t so it was pleasing to start off with a good round.

“I enjoy conditions like this without much wind, but I assume there will be more wind coming in the next few days.”

The 23 year old is just ahead of Sebastien Gros in the rankings and the Frenchman also got off to a solid start at Almouj Golf, shooting three-under 69 to lie in a share of sixth place.


Azaan in form

Oman’s amateur golfers got the 36-hole NBO Oman Amateur Final underway playing on the same course as the professionals with Azaan al Rumhy taking the lead with a round of 81 to move eight shots clear of nearest rival Ali Hameed.

“It’s a great experience for us to play on the same course as the professionals this week,” said Azaan. “It’s the first time there has been an event only for Omanis.”

Fifteen year old Fahad al Kitani, the youngest of the six players taking part in the Amateur Final, impressed with a round of 94 off the Championship tees, while former Oman national team member Mohammed Mawaly, the oldest of the bunch, shot 99.