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Hansen sprints one clear with late eagle

TWICE European PGA champion Anders Hansen came up on the rails with a late eagle to take the lead with a seven-under 65 in the European Open first round on Thursday.

The 38-year-old Dane, who started at the 10th hole, picked up five birdies in a faultless effort before vaulting to the top of the leaderboard by chipping in for a three at the par-five eighth in warm, still conditions at the London Club in Ash, Kent.

Sweden's Peter Hanson, brimming with confidence after a hole-in-one in US Open qualifying this week, was in joint second place on 66 alongside South African Thomas Aiken, Jyoti Randhawa of India and Briton Sam Little.

World No. 4 Sergio Garcia fought back from a first-hole double bogey to post a 69 but fifth-ranked Henrik Stenson slid to a four-over 76.

Hansen, teeing off late in the day, made the perfect start when he holed out from 25 feet for a birdie at the 10th.

The 2007 and 2002 PGA champion also rolled in a 40-footer at the 17th but the highlight was his eagle.

"I hit a pretty good drive down the right, then hit it just short of the green," Hansen said. "It was quite a tricky chip because we were on the left side and the pin was short left so we were unsure if we could get enough check on the ball to stop it. But I hit it beautifully from about 15 yards."

Britain's John Bickerton produced the shot of the day, using a five-iron for a hole-in-one at the 194-yard, par-three third as he registered a 72.

In Fort Worth, Texas, South African Tim Clark, a runner-up last year, made the most of ideal scoring conditions to charge into a share of the first-round lead at the Colonial Invitational on Thursday.

Clark, in pursuit of his first victory on the PGA Tour since joining the circuit in 2002, fired a flawless seven-under 63 to set the pace with Americans Steve Stricker and Woody Austin.

Twice champion Kenny Perry of the US carded a 64 to end a calm, sunny day at Colonial Country Club level with Vijay Singh of Fiji while American Sean O'Hair and Australian Jason Day opened with 65s.

British world No. 3 Paul Casey, the highest-ranked player in a strong field, was among a group of six bunched on 66.


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