Norret grabs early Austrian lead

Dane Thomas Norret was the clubhouse leader midway through the first day of the Austrian Golf Open in Atzenbrugg.

Dane Thomas Norret was the clubhouse leader midway through the first day of the Austrian Golf Open at Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg.

A graduate of the European Tour School, Norret, who is currently only 173rd on The Race to Dubai standings and desperately in need of a big finish to his season to avoid a return to Q-School, shot a seven-birdie, two bogey, 5-under 67 and leads the first round by a shot from Scottish veteran Gary Orr.

Orr was at 4-under after 15 holes and in turn led Iceland’s Birgir Hafthorsson by a shot, the unheralded Hafthorsson having opened with a 3-under 69.

John Daly, looking as colourful as ever, was just a shot behind Norret on four under after four birdies when he reached the turn, having teed off on the 10th, but he then doubled bogeyed the first and never recovered, another double bogey and two more bogeys eventually taking his 18-hole tally to a two-over 74 and dropping him way down the field.

Spanish veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez also had a disappointing first round, his 1-over 73 edging him only one shot clear of a floundering Daly.

Padraig Harrington, perhaps the highest profile golfer in the field, had only just teed off at this stage and and had parred his first hole.

Harrington is way down in 87th place in the Race to Dubai standings and needs a high finish in this week’s Austrian Open if he is to have any chance of making the end-of-season event.

But the popular Ryder Cup star remains upbeat about his chances and is excited about the changes he has made to his game over the past few weeks.

“My game has been up and down all year as everyone knows but I have seen a lot of positives recently,” he told told the

“I recently changed coach and have been making a few changes to my swing, which people will see this week. The main change that I think people will notice is that the backswing will be wider and shorter.

“It is starting to feel good and I am really looking forward to getting out and competing here this week to gauge where my game is at and how I play in tournament conditions with the changes.”