Warren hits the front in Vilamoura


Marc Warren made a blistering start to the Portugal Masters to take a one-shot lead after the opening round in Vilamoura.

The Scot, without a victory on the European Tour since 2014, set the pace on Thursday with an eight-under 63 to hit the front.

Warren birdied the first six holes as he went out in 29, before going on to make further gains at 13 and 15 after the only blemish on his card came when he bogeyed the seventh.

The 35-year-old, who shared the lead after the opening round at the British Masters last week before finishing tied for 22nd, was red hot with the putter and hit 17 greens in regulation as he eyes a fourth victory on the European Tour.

Warren said: "I think I've had six or seven [birdies] in a row, but never at the start of the round. It's an absolutely perfect start. Everything was going right for me, just the right numbers and landing it close and a couple of tap-ins. It was a great start.

"You really have to control your expectations I think more than anything else. You kind of want to just keep hitting it close and making birdies and realise golf is not that easy.

"There are going to be a few holes you're going to have to dig in and overall I was pleased to keep moving forward on the back nine and come back in two under."

Matthew Baldwin, Mikko Korhonen and Eddie Pepperell are among five players just a stroke off the pace after starting with 64s.

That trio are all battling to keep their European Tour cards for next year and made encouraging starts to the week with plenty at stake.

Englishman Callum Shinkwin and David Lipsky of the United States are also in a share of second spot at Victoria Clube de Golfe.

Swede Jens Fahrbring, also in danger of losing his card, is one of five players two shots adrift of Warren, while the in-form Alex Noren is well poised on four under along with defending champion Andy Sullivan.