England’s Adam Gee, whose previous appearance in the Lyoness Open ended after one day and 81 shots, claimed a share of the lead on his return to Diamond Country Club.
Gee fired an eagle, four birdies and one bogey to card an opening five-under-par 67, which was matched by Sweden’s Mikael Lundberg as the later starters made the most of improving conditions in Austria.
Starting from the 10th, the world No 693 opened with three pars before holing his second shot to the 13th for an eagle 2, proving that practice certainly does make perfect. “Funnily enough, I’d done some work yesterday on the range on a few different distances and a similar one came up on 13,” said the 33-year-old, who retired after his first round in this event in 2012. He has won less than 20,000 euros on the European Tour this season after gaining his card via the qualifying school.
“You obviously need a slice of luck to hole one from range, but it was nice to see it disappear,” Gee said. “You get enough bad breaks in this game, so it’s nice when one goes your way.
“When we arrived at the course the wind was blowing pretty hard, which is maybe why a few of the guys struggled a bit more in the morning.”
Lundberg, whose two European Tour victories came in the Russian Open in 2005 and 2008, birdied two of his last three holes to match Gee’s score, with English pair Richard Finch and Matthew Baldwin, Welshman Rhys Davies and American Berry Henson a shot behind. On a crowded leaderboard a further 19 players were within three shots of the lead, including Scotland’s Scott Henry and France’s Thomas Levet.
Levet, who famously broke his leg when celebrating his last European Tour title in the 2011 French Open by diving into a greenside lake, said: “I played well after the drives, but my drives were a bit like Seve – left, right and sometimes straight.”