Paul Dunne could take plenty of heart from a strong finish after carding a one-over par round of 73 to lead home the Irish challenge on day one of the Austrian Golf Open.
The Greystones golfer, who’s been finding the game tough of late, could’ve been forgiven for dropping the head after double-bogeying the tenth hole to fall to four-over par. However, to his enormous credit, Dunne steadied the ship with four pars before an eagle at the par-5 15th and a birdie at his penultimate hole, ending the day in a share of 46th at plus-one.
That was two shots clear of Cormac Sharvin who carded four birdies but far too many mistakes in a three-over 75. Gavin Moynihan posted a five-over 77 as his woes continued while Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell carded an uncharacteristic eight-over 80.
There was no such trouble for Alejandro Cañizares who carded a five under par 67 to move into the first round lead, with former World Number One Martin Kaymer one of four players a single shot back.
Spain’s Cañizares has two European Tour titles to his name, which came eight years apart in 2006 and 2014, and the 38-year-old is aiming to bridge a seven year gap for his third victory this week at Diamond Country Club.
He recorded one of only seven eagles all day at the chilly Austrian venue, after a stunning second shot into the par five fourth left him with a five foot putt which he duly converted. Four birdies and a single bogey earned him the lead heading into day two, ahead of tightly-bunched chasing pack.
“I’m very pleased,” said the Spaniard. “It was tough to keep focus – it’s so cold. It was tough to feel the hands and that’s very important.
“I putted very nicely, just missed a short one when I made the bogey, that was about it, but from tee to green I was very stable. Very happy with the round, the last two putts were really big, I’m really pleased with the way I finished.
“I think the strength was just keeping my head on every shot because it’s very easy when you miss a shot to let it go on days like this when you’re struggling physically and mentally to keep warm.
“It was just do my process and do every shot and I was happy the way I managed bad shots becuase I didn’t let them get to me like has happened in the past. That was the key. I didn’t think that I played wonderfully tee to green, it wasn’t beautiful, but I hit some really good shots and I made some good putts in the end, so a solid round overall.”
Leading that chasing pack on five-under par were a quartet comprising two-time winner in 2020, John Catlin of the USA, Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg, Jacques Kruyswijk of South Africa and two-time Major winner Kaymer. The German Ryder Cup star made clear his intentions to collect a 12th European Tour title this week in Austria and six birdies en route to his 68 certainly helped that cause.
“The biggest battle was probably the cold, but in general the golf course plays pretty well, the conditions are nice, the greens are good,” said Kaymer. “Especially when I played in the morning, I had a very nice group, we were flowing, we all played fairly decent. I didn’t make many mistakes, so four under was a decent start.
“I’ve never played the golf course, so it was very new for me when I came on Monday. I drove from Munich, it’s a very convenient tournament for me to participate in. I’ve enjoyed the golf course – not so much on Monday when it was snowing – but Tuesday, Wednesday and today was enjoyable and so close to my country. I like to come to Austria.
“It was quite similar to yesterday. Still cold and windy, but in the tournament you do hit it a little bit better, a little bit further. The adrenalin is up, your focus is up, so I was quite pleased the way I played the golf course under those conditions today.”
- Full scoring HERE
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