Bond leads by one

Welshman Liam Bond grabbed the first round lead in the Austrian Golf Open at Atzenbrugg after an opening 66.

Welshman Liam Bond grabbed the first round lead in the Austrian Golf Open at Atzenbrugg after an opening 66.

Bond lies on six under par for the tournament, one stroke clear of Dane Thomas Norret, Australian Daniel Gaunt and Joost Luiten of The Netherlands.

England’s Steve Webster lies a further shot back after a 68 at Diamond Country Club, while Birgir Hafthorrson, Garry Orr, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Joakim Haeggman all shot 69s to lie on three under for the tournament.

Bond, a 41-year-old journeyman who finally made it onto the European Tour this year after no less than 16 attempts at making it through Qualifying school, finished strongly with four birdies in his final four holes and only made one bogey in his round on Thursday.

After almost making it on the Tour two years ago before two bogeys right at the death in the final round of q-school brought an end to his hopes, Bond finally did the job at the end of 2010, and while his season so far hasn’t been anything to write home about and he has missed his last five cuts, he finally had something to smile about today.

He’ll need to carry on this good form if he’s to avoid yet another trip back to q-school at the end of the year, however.

“I hit a lot of good iron shots and holed a lot of putts,” he told after his round.

“The greens here are fantastic and I managed to the read the right way today so it’s nice to make a great start.

Further down the field, two members of Europe’s victorious Walker Cup team, Tom Lewis and Paul Cutler, made their professional debuts today, but found the going tough.

20-year-old Lewis, for whom expectations are already high after he shot a five-under-par round to share the lead on the first day of the Open earlier in the year, bogeyed two of his first five holes and eventually carded a two-over 74.

Paul Cutler fared even worse, shooting a five-over 77 after a horror double-bogey at the first.

Some big names also struggled on the day. Padraig Harrington, back in action after a lengthy lay-off and debuting a new-look swing, did not have the start he’d have hoped for and had to settle for a three-over 75. His back nine in particular did not go to plan as he racked up four bogeys and a double to come home in 40.

American John Daly slipped up on the front nine to plummet from four under to two over, while defending champion Jose Manuel Lara posted a 75 and fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez a 73.