England’s Benn Barham equalled the lowest round of his career today to lead the Austrian Open in Vienna.
Needing to climb 60 places from his present 175th to save his European Tour card, the 33-year-old from Kent shot an eight-under-par 63 to finish the opening day one in front of Scotland’s Scott Drummond and Australian Brett Rumford.
Barham grabbed seven birdies and an eagle two on the 423-yard 13th, where his 150-yard approach pitched just past the flag and spun back in.
“I couldn’t quite see it drop, but the people around the green were shouting and waving so I knew it had gone in,” he said.
“This time of year you have no choice – either knuckle down and play well to keep your card or go somewhere else, which I am not thinking about.
“I’ve been playing well the last four or five weeks, so this is not a freak round.”
Ryder Cup Dane Soren Hansen, the only player in the world’s top 50 taking part, carded a four-under 67, one better than 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie and France’s Jean van de Velde, runner-up to him at Carnoustie.
Double Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal, who received a late invitation, had to be content with a 70, while Ireland's Gary Murphy shot 68 and Damien McGrane carded 71.