CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland, Sept 5 AFP – Unheralded Anirban Lahiri of India carded an eight under par 63 on Thursday to take a two-shot lead after the opening round of the European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre.
Ranked 178 in the world entering the prestigious EPGA event in the Swiss Alps, the 26-year-old from Bangalore built his score around two eagles, including a 140-yard second shot on the ninth that flew straight into the cup.
Spanish veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez – who set the course record of 61 on his way to winning in 2010 – and Englishmen Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood were two shots back.
“It’s nice to come back here with a bang as it was a tough pill to swallow last year missing the cut in the manner I did, so I’m delighted,” said Lahiri.
“I did not get off to a great start to be one over after four but then you never really expect to then have two eagles, so I tried just to build on the momentum of that.”
Two-time Ryder Cup winner Thomas Bjoern of Denmark was alone on five-under 66 after firing five birdies during a solid bogey-free round.
Six players, including Spanish veteran Jose Maria Olazabal, Scotland’s Stephen Gallagher and Thailand’s Pariva Junhasavasdikul were a further shot back on 67.
The day, however, belonged to Lahiri, who was lying in fourth place after an opening-round 66 last year but got caught out by a change in weather conditions on day two and ended up shooting an 81 to miss the cut.
“Playing here last year was a new experience for me as I went out in the second morning with about four layers on and after three to four holes I was sweating like a pig,” he recalled.
“The next thing I knew I had to peel off some clothes but then the clouds rolled in and the wind got up and I started then feeling like an icicle on the back nine.
“So that was a harsh lesson to learn and hopefully I can make amends this week.” added Lahiri, who only qualified for his first major at the 2012 British Open, where he not only made the cut but scored a hole-in-one during his third round.