Career best puts Barham in front

England’s Benn Barham equalled the lowest round of his career to lead the Austrian Open in Vienna on Thursday.

England’s Benn Barham equalled the lowest round of his career to lead the Austrian Open in Vienna on Thursday.
Needing to climb 60 places from his present 175th to save his European Tour card, the 33-year-old from Kent shot an eight-under-par 63 to finish the opening day one in front of Scotland’s Scott Drummond and Australian Brett Rumford.
Barham grabbed seven birdies and an eagle two on the 423-yard 13th, where his 150-yard approach pitched just past the flag and spun back in.
“I couldn’t quite see it drop, but the people around the green were shouting and waving so I knew it had gone in,” he said.
“This time of year you have no choice – either knuckle down and play well to keep your card or go somewhere else, which I am not thinking about.
“I’ve been playing well the last four or five weeks, so this is not a freak round.”
Drummond is fighting for his future as well, his five-year exemption for winning the Tour’s flagship PGA Championship at Wentworth expiring in November.
The 35-year-old earned nearly £420,000 for that victory, but his total winnings for this season are only just over £100,000 and that leaves him 158th on the money list.
“I’m delighted,” he said.
“It’s my lowest round of the season – and for the last few seasons, in fact.
“It was nice to get a top 20 finish last week, but I needed to bring that form to this week and keep the momentum going, which I’ve done today.
“I don’t feel I have hit the ball better at any point in my career and I feel comfortable where I am at.”
Rumford led the Omega European Masters in Switzerland two weeks ago after a first-round 62 but fell back to 32nd there.
His 64 was bogey-free, while Drummond had four successive birdies on the front nine and after a bogey on the 14th had three more in a row.
Ryder Cup Dane Soren Hansen, the only player in the world’s top 50 taking part, carded a four-under 67, one better than 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie and France’s Jean van de Velde, runner-up to him at Carnoustie.
Double Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal, who received a late invitation, had to be content with a 70, while England’s Nick Dougherty shot 71 and Welshman Bradley Dredge 72.
(Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 71):

63 Benn Barham
64 Brett Rumford (Aus), Scott Drummond
65 Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra), Richard Green (Aus), Phillip Archer, Mark Foster
66 Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), Alvaro Velasco (Spa), Callum Macaulay, Chris Gaunt (Aus), Pablo Martin (Spa)
67 Martin Erlandsson (Swe), Magnus A Carlsson (Swe), Soren Hansen (Den), Joost Luiten (Ned), David Horsey, David Lynn, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), Lee Slattery, Ross McGowan
68 John Mellor, Jean Van de Velde (Fra), Pelle Edberg (Swe), Simon Wakefield, Wil Besseling (Ned), Alessandro Tadini (Ita), Marc Warren, Markus Brier (Aut), Richard Bland, Jarmo Sandelin (Swe), Matthew Cort, Gary Lockerbie, Gary Murphy, Paul Lawrie, David Dixon, Thomas Levet (Fra)
69 Patrik Sjoland (Swe), Hennie Otto (Rsa), David Howell, Alfredo Garcia-Heredia (Spa), Rafael Echenique (Arg), Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Klas Eriksson (Swe), Mads Vibe-Hastrup (Den), Steven O’Hara, Alex Cejka (Ger), Seve Benson, David Drysdale, Sven Struver (Ger), Gregory Havret (Fra)
70 Francois Delamontagne (Fra), Phillip Price, Maarten Lafeber (Ned), Oliver Fisher, Jose-Maria Olazabal (Spa), Alexandre Rocha (Bra), Iain Pyman, Marco Ruiz (Par), Jean-Francois Lucquin (Fra)
71 Joakim Haeggman (Swe), Damien McGrane, Lukas Nemecz (Aut), Mikko Ilonen (Fin), Robin Goger (Aut), Robert Dinwiddie, Nick Dougherty, Scott Strange (Aus), Terry Pilkadaris (Aus), Marc Cayeux (Zim), Stephen Dodd, Ignacio Garrido (Spa), Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa), Cesar Monasterio (Arg)
72 Ulrich Van Den Berg (Rsa), Richie Ramsay, Mark Davis, Alan McLean, Branden Grace (Rsa), Ally Mellor, Sam Walker, Alastair Forsyth, Inder Van Weerelt (Ned), Alejandro Canizares (Spa), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Sam Little, Bradley Dredge, Christopher Doak, Michael Hoey
73 Roope Kakko (Fin), Birgir Hafthorsson (Ice), Andrew Coltart, Chinnarat Phadungsil (Tha), Pablo Larrazabal (Spa), Paul Broadhurst, Kane Webber (Aus), Michael Jonzon (Swe), Patrick Niederdrenk (Ger)
74 Anton Haig (Rsa), Greig Hutcheon, Simon Khan, Gustav Adell (Swe), Danny Lee (Nzl), John E Morgan, Marcus Higley, Claude Grenier (Aut), Taco Remkes (Ned), Santiago Luna (Spa), Benjamin Palanszki (Hun), Miles Tunnicliff, Barry Lane
75 Uli Weinhandl (Aut), Chenxiao Duan (Aut), Peter Lepitschnik (Aut), Petr Nic (Cze), Christoph Pfau (Aut), Jaakko Makitalo (Fin), Emanuele Canonica (Ita)
76 Carlos Del Moral (Spa), Clemens Prader (Aut), Eirik Tage Johansen (Nor), Alex Larrazabal (Spa)
77 Moritz Mayrhauser (Aut), Simon Griffiths
78 Kevin Berger (Ger), Jurgen Maurer (Aut), Vincent Abel (Aut)
79 Jordi Garcia Del Moral (Spa), Michael Moser (Aut)
81 Leo Astl (Aut)
84 Sebastijan Ajster (Slo)