Storm strikes in Austria

6/6/2013 12:37:00 PM
Graeme Storm  (Getty Images)
Graeme Storm (Getty Images)
England’s Graeme Storm set the clubhouse pace midway through the opening round of the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity with a six under par 66 at Diamond Country Club.

The former Open de France champion had a hat-trick of birdies from the seventh to turn in 32, gained another shot at the short 11th, chipped to two feet at the long 13th and fired a magnificent approach to six feet at the 14th.

A bogey at the last spoiled his card somewhat, leaving him tied at the top of the leaderboard with France’s Alexander Levy.

"I stayed very composed and tee to green I played as well as I could have,” said Storm, whose only European Tour title came back in 2007. “I think I only missed three greens and I holed a few nice putts.

"I felt as though I could have shot eight under today, but I missed a couple of chances.

"It's slightly disappointing bogeying the last as I had the perfect yardage for a six iron. I just pulled it a bit, which I did with a couple of irons in the last few holes, so I'll be going to the range after lunch to fix that.

"Other than that I played great all day. I had a nice little run on seven, eight and nine, and should have birdied the tenth as well.

"If you miss the fairways the rough is so long, so it's tough. Hitting the fairways is very important here. The course is great though given the conditions they've had."

Challenege Tour graduate Levy has made only two cuts so far in his rookie European Tour campaign, but impressed with seven birdies before, like Storm, bogeying the last.

Already the oldest winner in European Tour history, Spain's Miguel Angel Jiménez set about breaking his own record with a five under par 67 to share third with Liang Wen-chong and Austrian amateur Matthias Schwab.

Jiménez won the Hong Kong Open in November last year at the age of 48 years and 318 days, only to break his leg in a skiing accident the following month.

The 49 year old returned to action at the Open de España in April and celebrated his 600th European Tour appearance with a share of fourth place in the BMW PGA Championship a fortnight ago.

After a top-15 finish in the Nordea Masters last week, Jiménez continued his good form in Austria this morning with four birdies in his first seven holes, birdieing the sixth and seventh, both par fives, and gaining another shot at the next for good measure.

He said: "I enjoy what I do. I played very well and am hitting it very solid.

"I play with these guys and I need binoculars to see where they hit it. It's difficult to gain any distance now with this body at 49 years of age, but it doesn't bother me because I know who I am, I know my strengths."

Former Amateur Championship runner-up Schwab, an 18 year old who played in last year’s junior Ryder Cup, carded five birdies in his bogey-free round.

Defending champion Bernd Wiesberger had consecutive birdies at the sixth and seventh as he opened with a four under par 68.

"I'm not ecstatic, but it's a good start,” said the two-time European Tour winner. “I kept it together well and had to scramble a lot, especially on my front nine. On the back nine I had a few chances and managed to take a few of them.

"I started with a 71 last year so this is three better. Hopefully that means I can get to 20 under this time."

As the afternoon session began, Dutchman Joost Luiten surged into contention with five birdies in his first six holes.