Kofstad off to a flying start
Espen Kofstad impressed Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley as the qualifying race got under way at the ISPS Handa Wales Open.
Playing alongside McGinley in the first match out at 7:25am, Kofstad birdied the first two holes and then stormed home in 29 to card a seven-under-par 64 at Celtic Manor.
The 26-year-old even got a high-five from McGinley after holing a bunker shot on the 18th for an eagle to complete his round in style and set the early clubhouse target.
"What a finish," said McGinley, who struck the opening tee shot in the morning and birdied the last for a one-under-par 70. "To finish birdie, birdie, birdie eagle is fantastic.
"He hit it a million miles, hit a lot of fairways, played very well and he deserved that score."
Kofstad won the Challenge Tour last season but is 149th on the current Race to Dubai after missing eight cuts in succession following his only top-10 finish of the year at the Spanish Open in April.
A neck injury also forced him to withdraw from the French Open but working with a sports psychologist has seemingly had the desired effect.
"I have been very, very calm the last two weeks," Kofstad said. "I started to settle down a bit. I was a bit stressed and tentative and wasn't able to practice as much as I wanted to with my neck injury.
"Today I wasn't nervous and it felt really easy. I kept hitting the shots and they came off in the end. I got a little lucky I suppose holing a long putt on the 17th and the bunker shot on the last. I was only trying to get it 10-15 feet past the hole because it was a tough shot.
"It would be great to play in the Ryder Cup, although I can't really expect a spot. But I put in a decent application today."
Bristol's Chris Wood looked on course to join Kofstad in the lead, but three-putted the par-five ninth for his only bogey of the day and had to settle for a five-under 66.
"Even though I'm English I do think of this as a home event and it's one I'd love to win," said Wood, who eagled the short par-four 15th after his drive finished just four feet from the hole.
"It's nice to be able to stay at home this week, dinner is on the table when you walk in the door, and I treated my caddie to a Bristol City game on Tuesday.
"We beat Crystal Palace in the Capital One Cup so I think he got lucky. It's probably the best I have seen them play for a couple of years so I think Brendan is now a bit of a closet fan."
Worksop's Mark Foster had reached six under with three holes to play, but bogeyed the 16th and 17th and signed for a four-under 67.