Gary Murphy admits his mind wanders to “stupid stuff” on the golf course but he will have to concentrate for just 36 more holes to claim a first European Tour title in the Bank Austria Open.
After yesterday’s play was washed out without a shot being played and more thunder storms possible tomorrow, tournament officials took the decision to reduce the tournament to 54 holes.
Another major disruption to play could see the £1.1m event shortened further so Murphy was delighted to get off to a flying start with an opening round of 64, seven under par, for a six-way share of the lead.
“It’s probably going to be a sprint this week so a 64 is a great start,” admitted Murphy, whose best performance in more than 200 tour events was third in the Irish Open three weeks ago.
“I played well and putted really nicely. The greens are perfect so there are no excuses.
“I think I concentrated a lot better in Ireland because I wanted to do well at home. My biggest weakness is concentration, not thinking about stupid stuff and going home and having a few pints with the lads.
“You are out there for five hours so your mind wanders. The mental side of it is the hardest part of the game. You often hear guys who win a tournament saying they are exhausted, and I think it’s mental exhaustion.”
Irish golfers have enjoyed plenty of success this season with victories for Damien McGrane, Peter Lawrie and Darren Clarke, and Murphy admits the success of Lawrie and McGrane in particular gives him extra cause for optimism.
“In theory it should give me more self belief,” added the 35-year-old from Kilkenny. “It’s easy to say if your mates win then I should win but it doesn’t work like that.
“It has probably raised the goals. The guys are way up the Order of Merit and I am down the Order of Merit so the yardstick has probably increased.”
For the second year in succession, pre-tournament favourite Clarke was caught in a passing downpour on the 18th hole but this time managed a birdie four rather than a bogey six.
However, that was still only good enough for a one-under 70 and the Ulsterman headed straight to the driving range after his round.
Sharing the lead with Murphy were local favourite Martin Wiegele, Swedish pair Pelle Edberg and Christian Nilsson, Australian Scott Barr and India’s Jeev Milkha Singh.
Wiegele, who won the tour qualifying school last November, was nine under with three to play and had an outside chance for an historic round of 59, the first sub-60 score ever on the European Tour.
However, bad drives at the seventh and eighth resulted in bogeys and the 29-year-old had to hole a good putt from five feet on the last for par.
“I didn’t think about a 59, I was just taking it shot by shot and then the difficult seventh hole came up and I blocked my tee shot,” explained Wiegele.
“I did the same at the next and it nearly went in the water so I was happy to finish with a 64.”
Former Volvo Masters winner Singh, the son of a former Olympic sprinter known as the “flying Sikh”, has been second twice this season and was 10th in the Wales Open on Sunday.
“I’ve been knocking on the door and it’s got to open,” he said.
Italian Emanuele Canonica was a shot off the pace on six under after revelling in the support of his country’s football coach Roberto Donadoni and former Chelsea star Gianfranco Zola, now Italy Under-21 coach.
The Italian side are based in nearby Baden for Euro 2008 and Canonica said: “Hopefully they’ll be back tomorrow, it was a great pleasure to have those two guys watching me.
“I think our chances in Euro 2008 are very good. I was talking to them about it and they have one of the best teams for the last six or seven years. I think they have a good chance to win.”