Austrian Martin Wiegele fired a fabulous ten under par 62 on home soil to set the pace in round one of the Karnten Golf Open by Markus Brier Foundation.
Wiegele, who finished tied sixth in this tournament last year and won a car for a hole in one in the final round, had five birdies on each nine to lead by three shots at Klagenfurt-Seltenheim Golf Club.
Swede Anders Sjöstrand was second after fine seven under par 65 and tournament host Markus Brier was two shots further back alongside Austrian compatriot Thomas Feyrsinger, Germans Nicolas Meitinger and Bernd Ritthammer and Northern Irishman Gareth Shaw.
Wiegele, starting from the tenth, had four birdies in the opening five holes, another at the 17th and picked up two more shots at the first and third holes. He then produced a stunning finish by birdieing his last three holes and declared it the best round of his career.
“That was probably the best I’ve ever played,” said Wiegele, who also won as an amateur on this course. “I started off really well and I didn’t get into trouble the whole round. I had two good saves on the fifth and sixth but the rest of the time I was always putting from inside four metres. All my birdies were fairly short putts.
“It’s not an easy course and sometimes it’s pretty tight and you have it in your mind not to go in the rough or the water, but all my shots seemed to turn out well.
“Even though I teed off early there were people following me and the support was great. Hopefully tomorrow when I’m teeing off in the afternoon there will be even more people, especially if the weather stays nice.”
Anders Sjöstrand began with three consecutive birdies from the tenth and had another three-hole birdie run from the 14th to reach the turn in six under par. He added one more birdie on the way in, and said: “The first nine I was putting everything. I probably played even better on the second nine but didn’t hole as many putts.
“This is a great start and will give me a lot of confidence. I had a bit of a rough start to the season but now I feel I’m improving a lot and I’m also in the right mindset.”
Capping a fine day for Austrians, Brier and Feyrsinger both signed for 67s, giving the home crowds reason to cheer.
Brier, who finished tied fourth last year, said: “I hit my wedges well and got eight birdies. It’s nice to see my name up there near the top of the leaderboard – it feels a bit like last year. Perhaps it’s because I’m thinking about lots of other things and not so much about my game.”
Feyrsinger was left to rue a three-putt bogey on the last, adding: “That was an annoying way to finish as I played very well the rest of the round. It was a short putt but downhill and it lipped out and rolled about six feet away and then I missed the return putt.
“But other than I hit it close all day and felt very confident. It could’ve been three or four shots better but I’m happy anyway.”
Shaw said: “When you see someone has shot 62 you know something’s out there. It was a pleasing start. I was disappointed to three-putt two of the last three greens but I had my fair share of luck for the rest of the round.”