Fisher, Gallacher on top

European Tour

Ross Fisher and Stephen Gallacher lead the way on six-under-par after the first round of the Portugal Masters.

Ross Fisher and Stephen Gallacher lead the way on six-under-par after the first round of the Portugal Masters.

The duo both carded season-low scores of 65 as they tamed the Oceanico Victoria course.

Fisher birdied four of his first five holes and added a further three birdies (off-set by one bogey) on the back nine.

The Englishman has endured a poor year, dropping to 140th in the world. A member of Europe’s Ryder Cup team at Celtic Manor two years ago, Fisher admitted that Europe’s triumph at Medinah had inspired him.

“It’s been a tough season,” said the 31-year-old, “but it’s nice to see my hard work pay off, and if that Ryder Cup win doesn’t inspire you then nothing will.

“It was weird – I was more nervous watching on the sofa than I was playing at Celtic Manor.”

Like Fisher, Gallacher found birdies easy to come by and picked up six of his own in a blemish-free round.

Gallacher’s countryman, George Murray finds himself in third, one shot off the pace, with the Scot left to rue a bogey on the 16th.

A group of five – Swedes Fredrik Andersson Hed and Christian Nilsson, Ireland’s Shane Lowry, South African Jbe Kruger and Welshman Jamie Donaldson – are a further shot adrift on four-under-par.

Defending champion Tom Lewis began the defence of his maiden title with a round of 69.

Three of Europe’s Ryder Cup heroes – captain José María Olazábal, Martin Kaymer and Francesco Molinari – didn’t all enjoy the best of times with Olazábal carding a 75 and Molinari a 71, while Kaymer managed a slightly better 69.

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