Lee Slattery defied a sore wrist to shoot an opening-round four-under 67 to lead the Wales Open in windy conditions on Thursday.
Slattery said on his Web site that he struggled with a wrist injury during last week’s PGA Championship at Wentworth, England, and that contributed to him missing the cut.
The Englishman made any wrist pain look meaningless with the tough pin positions at Celtic Manor.
“I’ve been working really hard recently, trying to control my ball flight a little bit more,” Slattery said. “Today was a good test for it. In general, I hit a lot of strong-flighted shots and that really helps out there.”
Slattery won his first European Tour title last year at the Madrid Masters and he qualified for the US Open on Monday at Walton Heath, England, to make his first tournament on US soil.
“I can’t wait. I think it is more the atmosphere and playing in front of that sort of crowd,” he said. “I remember playing in the British Open at Hoylake, that was a great week and I thrived off the pressure. I am hoping to do the same that week.”
Marcel Siem of Germany was second after a three-under 68.
“It was tough, it was gusty, so three-under is good,” Siem said. “I enjoy playing this golf course. The greens are firm, which suits my ball flight and you have to think your way around.”
Ryder Cup hopeful Paul Lawire struggled to master the windy conditions, shooting three-over.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, who played a part in winning the trophy for Europe when the event was staged at Celtic Manor in 2010, struggled with a five-over 76.
Defending champion Alex Noren withdrew with a back complaint after posting a 10-over 81. Noren qualified for the US Open alongside Slattery, but it was unknown whether his injury would allow him to compete in the second major of the year at the Olympic Club in San Francisco in two weeks.
Gary Boyd of England had to retire injured, too, complaining of dizzy spells after carding 10s at the par-four fifth and the 17th holes in a round of 17-over.