New Zealander Jones records rare albatross in Belgium

A dazzling burst of scoring from New Zealand's Sam Jones at the Soudal Open in Belgium has been capped by a rare albatross in the European tour event.

The 27-year-old was three under par for the day at the Rinkven International course in Antwerp before he made a hat-trick of birdies from the 14th, and then holed his second shot to the par-five 17th from 273 yards in Thursday's opening round.

The world number 1315, who earned his DP World Tour card via the qualifying school in November, just weeks after turning professional, then parred the 18th for an inward nine of 28 and a nine-under-par 62.

"Initially it was going to be a three-shot hole," Jones said of the 17th.

"I thought about three iron off the tee but hit three wood, hit it nicely and covered a bit more of the corner than I thought I was going to.

"Got up there and we've got 248 (metres) to the flag. I said to Keith (his caddie) it was a perfect three wood, into the breeze a little bit.

"I was going well already at that stage so thought if I make a bogey here it's no big deal to drop one, so just hit it, flushed it and called for it to be good in the air and it was, just smacked the flagstick and went straight in."

Jones ended the day with a two-shot lead over a five-strong group which included England's Matthew Jordan and Andrew Wilson, with Scotland's Connor Syme another stroke back.

Syme took advantage of his opportunity to impress playing partner and Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald, carding eight birdies and two bogeys in his 65.

Donald, who made his first cut in a major since 2019 with a tie for 68th in last week's US PGA Championship, holed out from 150 yards for an eagle on the third and, after slipping back to one over par, birdied four of the last six holes to return a 68.

The only Australian to break par was David Micheluzzi, who shot a 69 featuring four birdies, while his compatriots Haydn Barron and Jason Scrivener both went round in 72.