David Geall thundered to an early lead in the Kitzbühel Golf Alpin Open by firing a course record, ten under par 61 before lightening struck the Kitzbühel Schwarszee course in the heart of the Alps and play was suspended for the day.
The Englishman, currently enjoying his second season on the European Challenge Tour, began his round at the tenth hole and went out in 33 before his putter “caught fire” and helped him complete the front nine in 28 strokes – smashing the previous course record of 66 by five shots.
Indeed, second placed Michael Kirk, who is sitting at eight under after a 63, Kariem Baraka and Richard McEvoy – both tied for third – following their 64s, as well as Paul Dwyer and Massimo Scarpa, who are a further shot behind, all broke the previous best round over the 6753 yard par 71 Kitzbühel Schwarszee course.
Reaching double figures under par came as something of a surprise to 35 year old Geall, who admitted he was expecting a low score – just not that low.
“I think it’s safe to say that I enjoyed that!” said the Englishman at the end of his round.
“I’ve been waiting for a score like that to come for the past four or five weeks now – maybe not a round that low but I have been playing really well. The main difference today was that my putter caught fire.
“I putted fantastically today – I only had 24 putts in total – and played my back nine in 28. The scores are going to be really low this weekend. I’d say that you’re going to have to be well past the 20 under mark to have a chance of winning this tournament.”
Baraka was left to lament his double bogey seven on the par five 15th, although he was pleased by his overall performance.
The 24 year old from Munich, who had a hole in one during the Austrian Open last year, concurred with the opinion of Geall, admitting that he’ll have to shoot another three 64s to be in with a shout of capturing his maiden Challenge Tour win.
He said: “I played well today – I hit my wedges and nine irons well which is what you have to do round this course. I made the putts today and it’s always nice to see them dropping.
“I had a disaster at the par five 15th where I took seven. I layed up and then hit a gap wedge pin high but it rolled off the green. Then I hit a bad chip that rolled off again and I took three putts from the bottom of the green.
“But I would have taken a 64 before I started this morning so I can’t complain too much. I think I’ll have to hit another three similar scores to that to win this week because the scoring is going to be really low here.”
With half the field still to complete their first rounds – some of whom had played only four or five holes – the leaders’ positions at the top of the scoreboard have been reinforced.
The heavens opened upon the Alps at 15:26 local time, with so much rain falling in the first hour of the storms that officials had no option but to suspend play for the remainder of the first day. Play is scheduled to restart at seven am on Friday morning.