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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Gonzalez is now going for glory

Ricardo's expectations mount after surprise startA GREAT start from Ricardo Gonzalez has forced him to reassess his chances in the Castello Masters in Spain over the coming weekend.

The Argentinian is chasing his fifth European Tour title at Costa Azahar and led at the end of the first round alongside Scotland's Paul Lawrie on seven under par, but had his sights set a little lower before the tournament began as he tried to avoid a fight to retain his Tour status.

"Today I had one my best rounds this season," said Gonzalez. "I played good -- I hit almost every fairway, which makes things much easier, and my putting felt great.

"Seven under proves that I can be up there and, hopefully, this will be my week. I was actually aiming for a top 10, as I am struggling to keep my card. This great start not only makes it easier but raises my expectations."

Gonzalez, who hit two hat-tricks of birdies in a round of 64, added: "Putting has been my main problem -- I have been very inconsistent this year, so I got myself a new, larger putter. I seem to see the line much better. I decided to give it a try this week, and it's working fine."

Former Open champion Lawrie -- who has not won a Tour event since the Wales Open in 2002 -- also exceeded expectations to share the lead with Gonzalez, while England's David Horsey is a shot further back.

Lawrie put his impressive opening round down to his putting.

"I putted lovely. I played solidly, I didn't play poorly, but I rolled the ball extremely well," Lawrie said.

"The greens this week are some of the best we've seen all year and when the greens are fast and they roll well I tend to hole putts, so I did that today.

"When the greens are fast I normally hole my share, so I'm hoping that continues."

Meanwhile, five players were tied for the lead as the first round of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas came to a close.

The American quartet of Robert Garrigus, Will MacKenzie, Michael Letzig and Cameron Tringale were joined by Australia's John Senden at the top of the leaderboard as each shot a seven-under-par round of 64.

Senden's ascent was aided by some excellent driving, hitting 18 of 18 greens in regulation, while Letzig left it late to join the leading group with a birdie-eagle finish.

A further group of five are on six under, while two-time major winner John Daly and 1997 US PGA champion Davis Love III were part of a group a shot further back.

Hunter Mahan was four under while US team-mate Rickie Fowler, a Las Vegas resident, was three under.

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