Pablo Larrazábal took command of the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity with a sensational opening round of 64.
The Spaniard raced to six under par at Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg, Austria, before a three hour and 40 minute delay for rain, which caused large patches of surface water to appear on the course.
Having already carded four birdies and an eagle three at the long 13th hole, there was a danger the interruption could upset the 29 year old’s rhythm. But instead he sunk an eight footer for birdie on the sixth hole and promptly birdied the next as well for a round which would have broken the course record were it not for preferred lies on the fairways.
“I hit the ball really well – I gave myself a lot of chances, and managed to take some of them,” said the former Open de France and BMW International Open winner. “It was nice to finally hole some putts, because I’ve been playing really well lately, without taking my chances. So it was great to see some putts drop today – that was the main reason for my score.
“The front nine I could have had one or two more,” added Larrazábal, who warned his best form was not too far away after he finished 45th in last week’s Open Championship.
“My long game is as good as it’s ever been, so I’m giving myself a lot of birdie chances. When the putts don’t drop it can be very frustrating, but fortunately today was a good day on the greens. I was never really in too much trouble, except for maybe a couple of loose shots after the rain delay. But I managed to save par, and after that I never looked like dropping any shots.”
Swede Rikard Karlberg was second on four under par, one ahead of compatriot Niclas Fasth and Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth.
Grégory Bourdy’s return to the course was perhaps even better than Larrazábal’s, as he chipped in from the rough for birdie on the fifth hole with his first shot after the rain delay, gained another shot at the next hole, then almost holed his approach to the eighth and tapped in.
That trio of birdies helped the Frenchman to a two under par round of 70 after he dropped four shots in as many holes around the turn.