A sensational 63 enabled Grégory Bourdy to open up a two shot lead on day one of the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre.
Five under proved the leading mark for much of the opening day in the Swiss Alps, yet Bourdy, who started on the tenth, broke clear in the early evening when he carded his sixth birdie at the fifth hole.
The Frenchman soon picked up further shots at seven and eight to complete a wonderful opening round that leaves him perfectly placed to contest for a first victory since 2009, when he triumphed at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
“It was a great day. I don’t think I’ve ever played better,” said Bourdy.
“This course isn’t the most difficult, but it’s not the easiest either because you have to hit the ball very straight, and I managed to do that today.
“I only missed one shot all day, but still managed to save par. My attitude was very good; I was very positive and that’s why I finished very well.”
Asked about the inclement weather in Crans Montana, Bourdy added: “We’ve never had rain like this here before - it’s raining even more than it did in Scotland last week!
“I feel much warmer after a 63 - that’s for sure.”
Oliver Fisher matched Bourdy by recording five birdies on the way home after beginning on the back nine; that was enough to lift him into second and he was joined by Fredrik Andersson Hed, who picked up four shots in his last five holes.
Fisher said: "It was good, the front nine which was my back nine I played in five under. I holed some very nice putts on two and four, then played pretty solid. The rain came in at the end but we probably managed to miss most of the really heavy stuff, so we got a bit lucky there. But I made the most of it, and I’m very pleased."
A quintet of players - Robert Coles, Rhys Davies, Anirban Lahiri, David Howell and Scott Barr - shared fourth following a day of low scoring at one of the game’s most spectacular venues.
Coles is aiming to mark a special milestone with his first European Tour success.
Three times a winner on the Challenge Tour, he turns 40 on Sunday and would have held second place with Fisher and Andersson Hed had he not dropped his only shot at 18.
“I'm hungrier than ever, because recently I've had chances to win, and I've started to believe that I can do it out here,” said Coles.
“Maybe earlier in my career I didn't truly believe I could win, but that's changed. The hunger comes from knowing you're capable, I just need to prove it. I'm probably hungrier now than I was in my twenties.
“To win any tournament would be great, but to win it on my birthday would be extra special. Although maybe they'll call it off on Saturday and we'll only play 54 holes; I could still win it as a 39 year old!”
The highlight of Davies’ round was an eagle at the par five first.
“I actually pulled my second shot into the bunker, but I had a good lie and hit a good shot,” explained the Welshman.
“I hadn’t expected it to go in. It was a great start to the day.”
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