European Open news: Marcus Armitage makes strong start to title defence in Germany

England's Marcus Armitage endured a wobbly start to his title defence, before mounting a superb late comeback to keep himself in contention for the title.

After impressing in Hamburg last year and winning the title, Marcus Armitage jetted off to Germany this week with the intent of defending his crown.

But after the first 10 holes, the 34-year-old found himself three over par and struggling to cope with the pressure.

However, the 11th hole seemed to be a turning point for the reigning champion, who went on to play the remaining eight in five under to finish the day two under par.

But as impressive as Armitage's comeback was, it was only enough to leave him three off the leaders - China's Li Haotong and Sweden's Joakim Lagergren.

Following Thursday's action, Armitage was the first to point out his poor start.

"My first round as the defending champion was a little ropey to start with," Armitage said.

"I just didn't quite have my golf swing but I stuck in there. I made a few crucial putts when I needed to and I caught fire near the end. I'm really pleased."

Elsewhere, Tommy Fleetwood suffered a day to forget despite being the highest ranked player in action.

Tommy Fleetwood

The world No.41 carded an opening 75 which included a triple-bogey six on the 17th after the 31-year-old failed to navigate his way around the lake.

Former champion Paul Casey was also spotted in Hamburg, albeit not as a player. The 44-year-old has been sidelined for three months after struggling with a back injury, but as a tournament ambassador he was able to deliver a promising update on his recovery.

"Doctors have said at least another three-plus weeks, maybe five-plus weeks of not hitting golf balls.

"Bulging disks, bone edema; I don't understand it all but it's just a very, very sore back right now. I'm not meant to be in extension and rotation, which is basically a golf swing.

"It's something I had back in 2018 and missed a few weeks, it's just a more acute experience this time. It's been incredibly frustrating to miss all the majors to this point (and) I'm going to miss more.

Play resumes on Friday morning, with Armitage looking to continue his fight to the top.

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