Atzenbrugg, Austria – Tom Lewis fired a 9-under 63 on Thursday and grabbed a 2-stroke lead through the opening round of the Lyoness Open.
Lewis carded nine birdies during his bogey-free round at Diamond Country Club. The Englishman earned his maiden European Tour win in just his third professional start at the 2011 Portugal Masters, but he hasn't had a top-10 finish in a strokeplay event since.
"It's a great start," said Lewis, who has missed six straight cuts. "This year's been tough, but I've been very close and shown a lot of good stuff. Today it all came together and if I can have three more rounds like that I'll be alright."
Joost Luiten, who also earned his only European Tour victory in 2011, shot 7- under 65, while former Open de France champion Graeme Storm, Challenge Tour graduate Alexander Levy, Richard McEvoy and Simon Dyson carded 66s.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, the oldest winner in European Tour history, is tied for seventh with Paul Waring, Andy Sullivan, Wen-Chong Liang and amateur Matthias Schwab at 5-under 67.
"It always feels good to have a great score in the first round," said Luiten. "I was 4-under after four and that keeps the round going. I hit a lot of fairways and greens and the putter was my best friend today."
Defending champion Bernd Wiesberger is knotted with seven others at 4-under 68.
"I started with a 71 last year so this is three better. Hopefully that means I can get to 20-under this time," said the Austria native, who finished at 19- under last year.
Luiten began his round with four straight birdies and, after a par at the fifth, the 27-year-old notched another birdie at the par-5 sixth to highlight his outward 31.
He reached clubhouse leaders Storm and Levy at 6-under with another gain at the 11th, but a bogey at the 13th pushed Luiten from the top spot. He rebounded, however, picking up birdies at Nos. 15 and 17 to reach minus-7.
Lewis then charged to the top spot.
Starting at the 10th tee, Lewis tallied back-to-back birdies out of the gate, then reeled off a hat trick of the same from the 15th for an outward 31. Further gains at Nos. 4 and 6 pushed Lewis to 7-under and he separated himself from Luiten with consecutive birdies from the eighth.
"I had some good fortune around the 17th and 18th, which was my front nine, and that made the back nine more relaxed," he said. "I holed a lot of putts, which was really the only difference between today and the rest of the year."
NOTES: Lewis is ranked No. 465 in the official world golf rankings. He hasn't made the cut on the European Tour since the Joburg Open in February, where he tied for 38th, marking his best finish of the season ... Luiten won the Iskandar Johor Open in 2011.