European PGA Tour

Pepperell, Dantorp share Nordea Masters lead

Malmo, Sweden (SportsNetwork.com) - Eddie Pepperell and Jens Dantorp both posted 6-under 66s on Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the Nordea Masters.

The leaders, who are ranked 346th and 385th in the world, are both looking for their first European Tour title.

Stephen Gallacher opened with a 5-under 67. He was joined in third place by Rikard Karlberg, Gareth Maybin, Daan Huizing and Sebastian Soderberg.

Six more players share eighth place at minus-4 on the Lake Course at PGA Sweden National.

World No. 2 Henrik Stenson and Miguel Angel Jimenez are part of a large group tied for 14th at 3-under 69. Defending champion Mikko Ilonen is four strokes off the pace at minus-2.

Pepperell played the back nine first on Thursday and opened with a pair of pars. He traded a birdie for a bogey from the 12th to drop back to even-par, but bounced back with three birdies in the next four holes.

The Englishman ran off six consecutive pars from the 18th before ending that run with a birdie on the par-3 sixth.

Pepperell then converted back-to-back birdie tries from the eighth, both from five feet out, to grab a share of the lead.

"I'm very pleased with that opening round. It was fairly windy out there so 66 is a good score," Pepperell stated. "I played well today and I hit the ball better, which is the main thing for me. I've not been hitting the ball that well over the last couple of weeks, despite some good results.

"Confidence is coming. The last two weeks have been good for me because I've been up there in the tournament at some point, but the Saturday in Spain I played some terrible shots, which I knew was to do with the swing. I'm trying to get that sorted."

Dantorp started two groups ahead of Pepperell and got on the board with birdies at 12 and 13. After three pars in a row, he converted a birdie effort on No. 16.

The 25-year-old Swede notched back-to-back birdies at the 18th and the first to move to minus-5. Dantorp then parred four in a row before making his last birdie at the par-3 sixth. He closed with three pars to get in first at minus-6.

"This is my home course, so I try to play it as much as I can when I'm home," Dantorp stated. "I can't really explain how good the support I got today was. All my friends, all my buddies were here and there was so much applause. That was one of the biggest keys to my success today; it definitely helped me.

"This season has been solid. I've not quite had the results I would have wanted, but it will come, I'm sure. It's all new to me so I'm taking it easy."

NOTES: Pepperell has missed the cut in six of his 12 starts on the European Tour this season. His best finish was a tie for 21st in his last start at the BMW PGA Championship ... Dantorp's last round in the 60s was the final round of the Trophee Hassan II, which was nine rounds ago.

05/29 15:24:48 ET

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