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Gareth Maybin just two shots off Omega lead

Updated: Thursday, 04 Sep 2014 20:32 | Comments

Gareth Maybin shot seven birdies in his opening round
Gareth Maybin shot seven birdies in his opening round

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Gareth Maybin shot a round of six under at the Omega European Masters in Switzerland and lies just two shots off leaders Richie Ramsay and Edoardo Molinari. 

Former champion Ramsay admitted the chance to make history had crossed his mind.

An eagle and six birdies in his first 15 holes at Crans-sur-Sierre left Ramsay needing to birdie the last three on the par-70 layout to record the first ever 59 on the European Tour.

But after a superb tee shot to six feet on the difficult 16th, Ramsay's birdie attempt slipped past the hole and he eventually signed for an eight-under-par 62 to share the lead with Italy's Molinari.

Michael Hoey carded a 65 for five under, while Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington were one shot further back.  

Peter Lawrie was one under par, Simon Thornton finished on plus three and Darren Clarke was four over par after a 74. 

"On the 16th I thought that if I could make my birdie putt I'd have a good chance, because the last two holes are decent chances for birdie," Ramsay said.

"I thought that if I could make my birdie putt I'd have a good chance"

"But once I missed the putt, I obviously knew the game was up."

Ramsay's season has been disrupted by injury, but he arrived in Switzerland on the back of finishing joint fourth in the Italian Open on Sunday.

The 31-year-old from Aberdeen won his second European Tour title here in 2012 and added: "There's a great picture of me holing the winning putt with the big screen behind me, so it'd be nice to recreate that on Sunday.

"This course really suits me. It's a proper golf course, you really need to think a lot and plot your way around, especially off the tee.

"Good shots get rewarded and poor shots get punished, which is exactly the way it should be.

"It's a tricky course but if you get on a run, there's definitely a low score to be had out there. I played really well two years ago and I was able to draw on those good memories on my way round today."

Low scoring was the order of the day with Northern Ireland's Maybin and English pair Tommy Fleetwood and Graeme Storm recording rounds of 64 and Ryder Cup debutants Jamie Donaldson and Victor Dubuisson in a large group on five under.

Fleetwood, who won his first European Tour title in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles last year, recovered from a double bogey on the fourth with four birdies in his last five holes.

He said: "It's obviously never nice to start with a three-putt, but then I holed a good par putt on the 11th so I could've been two over after two.

"But the birdie on 15 got me going and from there on in I played really well and felt good about my game. I shot five under on my back nine, which is the front nine, and didn't really have to hole any putts of note.

"When you're playing that well you just want to make the most of it and luckily I managed to do that today."

England's Seve Benson was part of the large group on five under thanks to a 65 in just his second tournament since May due to back problems.

The 27-year-old revealed he has had to change his swing due to a broken bone in his back, which kept him out of action from the BMW PGA Championship in May until last week's Italian Open.

"I had a fracture in my vertebrae so it was pretty serious," Benson told Sky Sports 4.

"Initially I thought it was just a pulled muscle but we had a few scans and I had fractured one of my vertebrae so it was rest time and then some rehab.

"I had to change my swing a little bit and as long as I keeping swinging in the new way then fingers crossed I will be fine, but if I revert to my old swing then it could come up again."

Defending champion Thomas Bjorn, seeking to emulate Seve Ballesteros by winning the event for the third time, rounded off a perfect day for Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley with a four-under 66.

The 43-year-old Dane will play his first Ryder Cup since 2002 later this month, but added: "You have to play the golf in front of you and not worry too much about what's ahead.

"The score was decent today so it's a good start."

Donaldson is looking for back-to-back victories after sealing his place on the team by winning the Czech Masters.

He said: "We had a few chats about the Ryder Cup but like Thomas said, I have two tournaments to play before then so my focus at the moment is continuing the good form and getting my game in shape."

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