Duo lead way at Lyoness
Adam Gee and Mikael Lundberg share the lead on five under after the first round of the Lyoness Open – but Miguel Angel Jimenez is lurking not too far behind of the early frontrunners.
Englishman Gee managed three birdies on his back nine, including one at his final hole, to card a 67. It was all a far cry from his last round at the event two years ago, when he retired after the opening day having taken 81 shots.
He also managed an eagle at the 13th, holing out from distance with his second shot, to raise hopes he can come up trumps at the Diamond Country Club and improve dramatically on his current world ranking of 693.
"You obviously need a slice of luck to hole one from range, but it was nice to see it disappear," he said afterwards. "You get enough bad breaks in this game, so it's nice when one goes your way.
"I've been playing quite nicely lately, there were some good signs last week in Sweden and I've continued that progress here. There's still a long way to go, but the signs are encouraging."
Gee's score was matched by Lundberg in Atzenbrugg, the Swede getting birdies at two of his final three holes to raise hopes of winning somewhere other than Russia on the European Tour, a place where he triumphed in both 2005 and 2008.
Four players - English duo Richard Finch and Matthew Baldwin and Welshman Rhys Davies were joined by American Berry Henson, who had a blemish-free round - are one shot back of the front-running duo.
A seven-man group are then clustered together a further shot behind; Scott Henry, Fabrizio Zanotti, Victor Riu, Richard Bland, Ross McGowan, Thomas Levet, Phillip Archer are all bunched together on three under.
Jimenez – who now lives in Vienna after marrying Austrian Susanne Styblo - is one of 12 sat on two under, the Spaniard recovering from a poor front nine that saw him bogey three of his first eight holes to register a round of 70.
The 50-year-old already holds the record for being the oldest winner on the European Tour, a feat he achieved when claiming his 22nd title at the Spanish Open in May.
Also on two under is Robert Dinwiddie; the Englishman looked set to be higher up the leaderboard going into the closing stages of the day, only to then sandwich a late birdie at the 16th with bogeys.
Home favourite Bernd Wiesberger's hopes of qualifying for the US Open suffered a rather mixed start, the Austrian's bid to repeat his 2012 victory in the tournament beginning with a 71.
The 28-year-old, who opted not to play at the recent qualifying event at Walton Heath, needs to be crowned champion on Sunday if he is to book a trip to Pinehurst, as he sits outside the top 60 in the world. He currently sits at 69th in the rankings.
Jeev Milkha Singh of India, Kenneth Ferrie of England, both also former champions, are alongside Wiesberger on one under.