ATZENBRUGG, Austria – Liam Bond of Wales took advantage of improved weather conditions in the afternoon to shoot a 6-under 66 Thursday to lead the Austrian Open after the opening round.
Bond, who is yet to land a top-20 finish in his first year on the European Tour, carded four birdies on the last five holes and seven in total to go one shot clear of Thomas Norret, Daniel Gaunt and Joost Luiten.
“I played really well today, I didn’t miss too many shots,” Bond said. “I haven’t been the best with the putter on Tour this year so it was very nice to strike the ball well and see a lot of them go in the hole.”
The 193rd-ranked Bond missed the cut in his previous five events and needs a strong finish to the season to retain his tour card. Norret and Gaunt are also still chasing their card for next season.
Early starters were hampered by strong winds over the course at Diamond Country Club though Norret managed to take an early lead with 67 thanks to seven birdies and two bogeys.
“I hit a lot of good iron shots and holed a lot of putts,” Norret said. “It was cold this morning and the wind picked up as the day went on, but I managed to pick the right shots.”
Miguel Angel Jimenez, the highest ranked player in the field, shot a 73 and John Daly had to settle for a 74 after conditions made play difficult as they played the back nine.
Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington was 2 under after seven holes but carded four bogeys and a double bogey on his final nine holes to finish on 75.
Walker Cup players Tom Lewis and Paul Cutler struggled on their professional debuts, with Lewis carding a 74 and Cutler a 77.