David Drysdale flying high with strong strong start at Cyprus Open

Scottish golfer overcame a self-diagnosed case of ‘Elevated Tee Syndrome’ to card 65

Scotland's David Drysdale overcame a self-diagnosed case of "Elevated Tee Syndrome" to continue his dogged pursuit of a maiden European Tour title in the Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Open.

Playing in his 509th tournament, Drysdale carded an opening six-under-par 65 to lie a shot off the lead held by England's Mitch Waite and American Johannes Veerman in the inaugural edition of the €1 million event.

As its name implies, Aphrodite Hills features some notable elevation changes and Drysdale had little memory of them having only previously played the course during a “drunken holiday” a decade ago.

“I got a little bit of vertigo on the third tee and the seventh tee,” Drysdale said after a round containing an eagle, five birdies and a solitary bogey.

“It’s weird, I call it ETS – Elevated Tee Syndrome – where you feel like you can’t follow through, you just stay so far back on it because it’s so high up. It’s a strange feeling on a couple of tee shots round here.

“How you see this bit of land and design a golf course on it, it’s incredible. The fella who designed it has done an amazing job. Some of the drives, the buggy ride to the tee shot on three and then the buggy ride to the seventh tee, it’s incredible.

“I actually played here before about 10 years ago, but it was a little drunken holiday and we played early in the morning and I can’t remember an awful lot about it, but I do remember the drive down that hill on seven and just thinking ‘Oh my God’.”

Waite turned professional in November 2018 and is making just his fourth start on the European Tour, but the 25-year-old from Bristol held his nerve when a hot start drew the attention of the TV cameras as he carded an eagle and seven birdies in his 64.

“It’s probably been a slow professional career so far, expectation was high for myself and I put myself under pressure more than anybody else,” the world number 974 said.

“Last year was a tough year and I started quite nicely at the beginning of this year on the Challenge Tour before Covid hit and that slowed me down, but I’m just fortunate to be here on an invite.

“It’s easy to say [you have] no expectations but you’ve got to still go out there and do it.

“You tell yourself don’t play with any pressure but, at the end of the day, when the cameras come on and you’ve not been in that position before there is a bit of pressure there and I was really pleased with how I finished up in those last three holes.

“It’s early days but I’ve got an early tee time tomorrow and there are so many good players out there now that the scoring’s going to be low, so you’ve got to go out and do the same again.”

Former Ryder Cup winner Jamie Donaldson, England's Andy Sullivan, Finland's Sami Valimaki and France's Joel Stalter share third place with Drysdale on six under on a day which saw 78 completed rounds under par. Six players in the 105-strong field were unable to finish due to fading light.

The Northern Ireland duo of Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin both carded opening rounds of two-under 69, with Caldwell making an eagle three on the par-five 10th along with two birdies and two bogeys. Sharvin made it to three under before dropping a shot on the closing par-five 18th.

Leaderboard

British and Irish unless stated, par 71 - 6 players yet to complete first round

64 Mitch Waite, Johannes Veerman

65 Andy Sullivan, Joel Stalter (Fra), David Drysdale, Jamie Donaldson, Sami Valimaki (Fin)

66 Marcus Armitage, Will Enefer, Clement Sordet (Fra), Richard McEvoy, David Horsey, Pedro Figueiredo (Por), Thomas Detry (Bel), Lorenzo Gagli (Ita)

67 Oliver Wilson, Callum Shinkwin, Matthias Schwab (Aut), Adrien Saddier (Fra), Shubhankar Sharma (Ind), Wil Besseling (Ned), Laurie Canter, Jack Senior, Jordan Smith

68 Sebastian Heisele (Ger), Ashun Wu (Chn), Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Jack Harrison, Jeff Winther (Den), Dale Whitnell, Garrick Higgo (Rsa), Robert Macintyre, Louis De Jager (Rsa), Paul Waring, Damien Perrier (Fra), Matthew Southgate, James Morrison, Alvaro Quiros (Esp), Wilco Nienaber (Rsa), Scott Vincent (Zim)

69 Steven Brown, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Alexander Bjork (Swe), Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez (Esp), Jorge Campillo (Esp), Grant Forrest, Carlos Pigem (Esp), Robin Roussel (Fra), Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin), Maverick Antcliff (Aus), Joel Sjoholm (Swe), Sebastian Soderberg (Swe), Calum Hill, Benjamin Hebert (Fra), Nacho Elvira (Esp), Jonathan Caldwell, Aaron Cockerill (Can), Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn), Gregory Havret (Fra), Cormac Sharvin, Haydn Porteous (Rsa), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Robin Sciot-Siegrist (Fra), Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Ricardo Santos (Por)

70 Richard Bland, Kalle Samooja (Fin), Michael Campbell (Nzl), Joost Luiten (Ned), Garrick Porteous, Romain Langasque (Fra), Jason Scrivener (Aus), Julian Suri, Ben Stow, Alejandro Canizares (Esp), Bernd Ritthammer (Ger), Ewan Ferguson

71 SSP Chawrasia (Ind), David Howell, Bryce Easton (Rsa), Chris Paisley, Pablo Larrazabal (Esp)

72 Sam Horsfield, Toby Tree, Kristoffer Reitan (Nor), Antoine Rozner (Fra), Joakim Lagergren (Swe)

73 Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Richie Ramsay, Niklas Lemke (Swe), Yi-Keun Chang (Kor), Connor Syme

74 Ross Fisher

75 Haotong Li (Chn), Adrian Meronk (Pol), Gavin Green (Mal), Sean Crocker

76 Lars Van Meijel (Ned)

78 Rikard Karlberg (Swe)