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Friday, 19 March 2010
Austrian Golf Open - Round One  (Getty Images)
Austrian Golf Open - Round One (Getty Images)

England's Benn Barham equalled the lowest round of his career to lead the Austrian Golf Open in Vienna.

The 33 year old from Kent shot an eight under par 63 to finish the opening day one in front of Scotland's Scott Drummond and Australian Brett Rumford.

Barham grabbed seven birdies and an eagle two on the 423 yard 13th, where his 150 yard approach pitched just past the flag and spun back in.

"I couldn’t quite see it drop, but the people around the green were shouting and waving so I knew it had gone in," he said. "This time of year you have no choice – either knuckle down and play well to keep your card or go somewhere else, which I am not thinking about.

"I've been playing well the last four or five weeks, so this is not a freak round."

Barham needs to climb The Race to Dubai rankings to guarantee his card for next year and Drummond is fighting for his future as well - his five-year exemption for winning The European Tour's flagship PGA Championship at Wentworth expiring in November.

The 35 year old earned four times more for that victory than he has so far this year, and that leaves him 158th on The Race to Dubai.

"I'm delighted," he said. "It’s my lowest round of the season - and for the last few seasons, in fact. It was nice to get a top 20 finish last week, but I needed to bring that form to this week and keep the momentum going, which I've done today.

"I don’t feel I have hit the ball better at any point in my career and I feel comfortable where I am at."

Rumford led the Omega European Masters in Switzerland two weeks ago after a first round 62, but fell back to 32nd there.

His 64 was bogey-free, while Drummond had four successive birdies on the front nine and after a bogey on the 14th had three more in a row.

“I heard how nice this place was and Austria has lured the players here,” said Rumford. “It was through word of mouth I am here, other players raving about the golf course.”

Ryder Cup Dane Søren Hansen, the highest ranked player taking part, carded a four under 67, one better than 1999 Open Championship winner Paul Lawrie and France's Jean Van de Velde, runner-up to him at Carnoustie.

Double Masters Tournament winner José Maria Olazábal, who received a late invitation, had to be content with a 70.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1CABRERA-BELLO, RafaESP18-20
2BARHAM, BennENG18-19
3HANSEN, SorenDEN18-17
4BLAND, RichardENG18-15
5OOSTHUIZEN, LouisRSA18-14
T6BENSON, SeveENG18-13
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