SSI Err
Thursday, 22 September 2011
Liam Bond  (Getty Images)
Liam Bond (Getty Images)
Liam Bond took full advantage of benign afternoon conditions at Diamond Country Club to lead the Austrian GolfOpen presented by Lyoness.

The 41 year old rookie, who graduated from Qualifying School at the 16th attempt last November, is yet to post a top-20 finish this season.

A run of five missed cuts in a row coming into the event had seen Bond slip to 193rd on The Race to Dubai and the Welshman still has plenty to do to retain his card.

But he birdied four of his last five holes - there were seven in total, with one bogey - for a six under par 66.

“I played really well today – I didn’t miss too many shots,” he said.

“I had a couple fo really good up and downs early in the round to stay under par when I could have easily slipped back over par. Then I had a great finish with four birdies in my last five holes. 

“I putted nicely today. I had the ball rolling at a very good speed. 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. I have to say that the greens here are outstanding.

“I have played alright this year – I think I have missed five cuts by a single shot so that tells you that you are not playing badly, things just went my way today.” 

And Bond revealed that a former Ryder Cup star gave him some invaluable advice.

“I had a good talk with Phillip Price recently and he was saying that when he was playing badly he was missing cuts by miles, but when you are only missing by a shot then you are not too far away and all you need is a little bit of luck or soemthing to click into placeand you are back on track,” he added.

“There was always light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully today is the start of things going my way.” 

Bond was one ahead of Dane Thomas Nørret, Australian Daniel Gaunt and Dutchman Joost Luiten, with England’s Steve Webster fifth on four under.

With the exception of Luiten - who at 57th in The Race to Dubai can secure a spot at the Dubai World Championship with a good showing this week - all of the chasing pack are yet to gain a European Tour card for 2012.

The 37 year old Qualifying School graduate Nørret had by far the best of a cold and breezy morning session.

Currently 173rd on The Race to Dubai, he made a good start with seven birdies and two bogeys in his round - the highlights being a 20 foot birdie putt on the third and a 30 foot effort from the fringe two holes later.

“I hit a lot of good iron shots and holed a lot of putts,” he said. “The greens here are fantastic and I managed to the read the right way today so it's nice to make a great start. 

“It was cold this morning and the wind picked up as the day went on, but I managed to pick the right shots today.” 

Challenge Tour graduate Gaunt is 137th on The Race to Dubai, and with the top 115 retaining playing privileges he boosted his hopes with eight birdies and three bogeys.

Luiten birdied the sixth and seventh to turn in a two under 34, before a mixed inward nine that featured an eagle three at the tenth, three birdies and two bogeys.

Webster - fighting to keep his card for a 17th season on The European Tour at 127th on the money list - birdied three of his first five holes.

But eagles at the tenth and 13th were combined with bogeys at the 11th and 15th, the latter threatened to be even worse with the Englishman holing a 25 foot putt, and 18th.

Of the three Walker Cup heroes making their professional debuts in the event, Andy Sullivan had the best day with a level par 72 leaving him well placed for a first cheque this weekend.

Tom Lewis, who shot to fame at The Open Championship with his opening 65, has some work to do from two over, while Northern Irishman Paul Cutler requires something special to earn a first payday after firing a 77.

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