For the second time in three weeks Australian Brett Rumford was the man to catch when the Austrian Golf Open began in Vienna.
The 32 year old from Perth, who began the Omega European Masters in Switzerland with a nine under par 62 before slipping back to 32nd, this time fired a seven under 64 to lead England's Phillip Archer and Mark Foster by one.
Rumford, chasing his fourth European Tour victory, had four birdies in the first seven holes to turn in 31, then picked up further strokes at the 11th, 12th and 16th.
“I played early and got off to a good start,” said Rumford. “I didn't quite take advantage of the par fives but holed the putts I needed to and it was a good start. It was a nice blend and I am very pleased.
“The greens are the smoothest surface we have played on all year and I was one of the first groups out so they were perfect. It is my first year here, but I have heard great stories about this place and today confirmed it. Definitely the best conditioned course I have played this year and probably will do.”
Archer also had seven birdies, but ran up a bogey six on the long 15th, while Foster birdied no fewer than eight holes, but bogeyed the 14th and fourth.
Two years ago Archer was unbeaten as Britain and Ireland beat Continental Europe in the Seve Trophy, but he is only 156th on The Race to Dubai this year and needs a big finish to the year to keep his European Tour card.
At 105th Foster is still fighting to secure his immediate future as well, having failed to manage a top 15 finish all year.
Spaniard Pablo Martin returned a five under 66 to be tied for fourth with another Australian, Chris Gaunt.
Former Open Championship winner Paul Lawrie and last year's runner-up Simon Wakefield were part of the group on three under, while double Masters Tournament champion José Maria Olazábal, who received a late invitation to the event, had to be content with a one under 70.
“I have to say the golf course is beautiful,” said Olazábal. “The way it is set up is magnificent, the condition is great. I mentioned yesterday at the Pro-Am dinner that I have been playing for 20 years all over the world and this golf course is as good as it gets.
“I am a little disappointed on the first round. I didn't hit the irons well and it was the perfect conditions to score well. There was no wind, temperature was nice and the greens were holding well. So a little disappointed but all I can do is try my best and fight the best I can.”