An eagle and six birdies in his first 15 holes at Crans-sur-Sierre left Ramsay needing to birdie the last three on the par-70 layout to record the first ever 59 on the European Tour. But, after a superb tee shot to six feet on the difficult 16th, Ramsay’s birdie attempt slipped past the hole, and he eventually signed for an eight-under-par 62 to share the lead with Italy’s Edoardo Molinari.
“On the 16th, I thought that if I could make my birdie putt, I’d have a good chance, because the last two holes are decent chances for birdie,” Ramsay said. “Once I missed the putt, I knew the game was up.”
Ramsay’s season has been disrupted by injury, but he arrived in Switzerland on the back of finishing joint fourth in the Italian Open on Sunday.
Low scoring was the order of the day, with Ireland’s Gareth Maybin and English pair Tommy Fleetwood and Graeme Storm recording rounds of 64, and Ryder Cup debutants Jamie Donaldson and Victor Dubuisson in a large group on five under.
Fleetwood, who won his first European Tour title in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles last year, recovered from a double bogey on the fourth with four birdies in his last five holes.
England’s Seve Benson was part of the large group on five under thanks to a 65 in just his second tournament since May due to back problems. The 27-year-old revealed he has had to change his swing due to a broken bone in his back, which kept him out of action from the BMW PGA Championship in May until last week’s Italian Open.
Defending champion Thomas Bjorn, seeking to emulate Seve Ballesteros by winning the event for the third time, rounded off a perfect day for Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley with a four-under 66.
The 43-year-old Dane will play his first Ryder Cup since 2002 later this month, but added: “You have to play the golf in front of you and not worry too much about what’s ahead.
“The score was decent today so it’s a good start.”
Donaldson is seeking back-to-back wins after sealing his place on the team by winning the Czech Masters. He said: “We had a few chats about the Ryder Cup but like Thomas said, I have two tournaments to play before then so my focus at the moment is continuing the good form and getting my game in shape.”
Irish competitors are in good shape, with Michael Hoey shooting a 65 and Shane Lowry and Pádraig Harrington one shot worse off on 66. Peter Lawrie is on 69 while Darren Clarke is well down the field on 74.