Anirban Lahiri (Getty Images)
India’s Anirban Lahiri played through the pain barrier to fire an eight under par 63 and lead after the opening round of the Omega European Masters at the breathtaking Crans-sur-Sierre.
Still nursing a twisted knee after falling awkwardly four weeks ago, the 26 year old had two eagles in his first round to lead by two – but Crans veterans Miguel Angel Jiménez and Thomas Björn and recent European Tour winners Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood are all firmly in contention after enjoying a profitable first day.
“I’ve a history with my knee as I tore my ACL when I was 15 so it was tough,” said Lahiri.
“I didn’t hit balls for 15 days. Monday was probably my fourth round in a month. I came in with no expectations and just wanted to enjoy my golf and that’s probably what’s happening out there today.”
Lahiri could be forgiven for feeling a slight sense of déjà vu – he also held a share of the first round clubhouse lead last year, only to miss the cut when the weather turned on day two.
Not that Lahiri, a three-time winner on the co-sanctioning Asian Tour, expects to suffer a similar fate this year.
“It was a tough pill to swallow last year but I’ve learnt a lot from that,” he added. “The weather was so much colder and it was a big adjustment for me.
“It was a harsh lesson, but a lesson for life nevertheless.”
Fleetwood won his first European Tour title a fortnight ago at Gleneagles, and after turning in a one under 34 eagled the long first and picked up three further birdies for a six under par round of 65.
The former Challenge Tour Number One’s first victory was followed by a missed cut in Wales, but the 22 year old feels better equipped to deal with the pressure now.
"I felt a lot better about my game from Monday onwards," Fleetwood said.
"It was a hard week; I wasn't prepared for how hectic it would be.
"It was my first win and hard to take and it was a big comedown but hopefully I'll be more prepared for my next win."
His score was matched by 2010 winner Jiménez, making his 25th consecutive appearance in the event, and Casey – the Irish Open winner producing the best round of the afternoon session.
“It is a very nice start,” said Spaniard Jiménez. “I played very well today - I can play this course with my eyes closed!”
The man who took the title from him in 2011 – Dane Thomas Björn – is a shot further back in fifth.