DAMIEN McGRANE carded seven birdies in the opening round of the Austrian Golf Open and signed for a round of 67 after dropping shots on the second and 17th to remain within two shots of the leader, George Coetzee of South Africa.
Simon Thornton of Team Ireland was four under through 12 holes but then dropped a shot on the 13th at the Diamond Country Club to finish three under along with Graeme McDowell – who carded five birdies on the back nine.
Coetzee boosted his hopes of retaining his European Tour card after shooting a seven-under-par 65 to take a one-shot lead.
The 24-year-old is back in 142nd place on the Race to Dubai standings, with only the top 115 retaining their cards for next season, but he put those concerns to one side with a round comprising eight birdies and just a single dropped shot.
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