/ Golf

Gee grabs early lead at Lyoness Open

Updated: Thursday, 05 Jun 2014 21:48 | Comments

Adam Gee played his first round of golf at the age of 15
Adam Gee played his first round of golf at the age of 15

England's Adam Gee, whose previous appearance in the Lyoness Open ended after one day and 81 shots, claimed a share of the lead on his return to Diamond Country Club on Thursday.

Gee fired an eagle, four birdies and one bogey to card an opening five-under-par 67, which was matched by Sweden's Mikael Lundberg as the later starters made the most of improving conditions in Austria.

Starting from the 10th, the world number 693 opened with three pars before holing his second shot to the 13th for an eagle two, proving that practice certainly does make perfect.

"Funnily enough, I'd done some work yesterday on the range on a few different distances and a similar one came up on 13," said the 33-year-old, who retired after his first round in this event in 2012.

"You obviously need a slice of luck to hole one from range, but it was nice to see it disappear. You get enough bad breaks in this game, so it's nice when one goes your way.

"When we arrived at the course the wind was blowing pretty hard, which is maybe why a few of the guys struggled a bit more in the morning. I think we definitely got the better half of the draw, which was another bit of fortune that went my way. But I'll certainly take it.

"I've been playing quite nicely lately, there were some good signs last week in Sweden and I've continued that progress here. There's still a long way to go, but the signs are encouraging."

Lundberg, whose two European Tour victories came in the Russian Open in 2005 and 2008, birdied two of his last three holes to match Gee's score, with English pair Richard Finch and Matthew Baldwin, Welshman Rhys Davies and American Berry Henson a shot behind.

On a crowded leaderboard a further 19 players were within three shots of the lead, including France's Thomas Levet, who compared his golf to that of the late Seve Ballesteros after an erratic 69.

Levet, who famously broke his leg when celebrating his last European Tour title in the 2011 French Open by diving into a greenside lake, told Sky Sports: "I played well after the drives, but my drives were a bit like Seve - left, right and sometimes straight.

"It's been like that all season long. I'm working on it and it's a little better, but today I got lucky a few times in not losing balls off the tee and that made the difference."

The best example of that came on the par-five 15th, where Levet hit his drive 100 yards right off the tee but stopped just short of a water hazard. From there he opted to play down a different fairway, then hit a two iron from 227 yards to eight feet and holed out for birdie.

"Easy golf," the 2002 Open runner-up joked.

Simon Thornton leads the Irish contingent in Atzenbrugg after opening with a 71.

Local favourite Bernd Wiesberger's US Open gamble remains in the balance after he too carded a 71 in a round marred by a double-bogey six on his penultimate hole.

Wiesberger needs to repeat his 2012 triumph in his home event to qualify for the second major of the season at Pinehurst next week by moving inside the top 60 in the world rankings from his current position of 69th.

The 28-year-old from nearby Vienna has put all his eggs in one basket by not playing the recent qualifying event at Walton Heath and missing last week's Nordea Masters to concentrate on this week.

"The wind is a very strong defence on this course, so one under isn't too bad a start, especially with the way I started," Wiesberger said.

"I played my back nine pretty well, but one bad swing on the eighth hole really cost me. Other than that, I'm quite happy."

Another ‘local’ favourite, Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, went one better than playing partner Wiesberger with a round of 70, the 50-year-old having moved to Vienna following his recent wedding to Austrian Susanne Styblo.

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