James Morrison produced an outstanding performance on the first day of the 2023 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, shooting a brilliant 64 in challenging conditions to take a one-shot lead. Spain has been a successful location for the English golfer, as he claimed his second DP World Tour title at the Open de España in 2015. On Thursday, he once again showcased his skills in Andalucia, finishing at eight under par. Morrison’s round was highlighted by an impressive run of scoring, including an eagle and five birdies in seven holes around the turn. Despite struggling with strong winds in the afternoon, he managed to bounce back with a birdie on the 16th and a great par save on the final hole.
Morrison’s closest competitor after the morning session was Nick Bachem, who finished at seven under par with an eagle, seven birdies, and two bogeys in his round of 65. Defending champion Adrian Otaegui, who triumphed at the nearby Real Club Valderrama last year, trailed behind by one stroke after a bogey-free 66. Daniel Gavins and Wil Besseling were tied for fourth place at five under par. Jeong weon Ko, an afternoon starter, was at four under par after 15 holes when play was suspended due to fading light.
Morrison began his round with a birdie on the third hole and then followed it up with a chip-in eagle on the sixth, taking him to three under par. He continued his strong performance with back-to-back birdies on the seventh and eighth holes, and saved par from 13 feet on the ninth. The 38-year-old golfer then achieved a hat-trick of birdies from the tenth hole, maintaining his momentum with solid putting. Although he bogeyed the 15th hole, he quickly recovered with a birdie on the 16th, hitting his approach shot within two feet.
Closing his round with consecutive pars, Morrison set the clubhouse lead at eight under par. Given the unfavorable conditions, no player was able to surpass his score. Reflecting on his performance, Morrison expressed his satisfaction, acknowledging the challenging weather conditions and the need to take advantage of the better morning conditions. He also praised Spain as a favorable location for him, as the courses there suit his style of play, being more strategic and not excessively long.