Published September 05, 2013
| Sports Network
Crans Montana, Switzerland – Anirban Lahiri fired an 8-under- par 63 on Thursday and grabbed a 2-stroke lead through the opening round of the European Masters.
Lahiri, a three-time winner on the Asian Tour, has been limited recently by a twisted left knee.
"I didn't hit balls for 15 days," he said. "Monday was probably my fourth round in a month. I came in with no expectations and just wanted to enjoy my golf and that's probably what's happening out there today."
Lahiri finds himself in a familiar spot, as he shared the first-round lead at this event last year. The 26-year-old Indian is hoping for a better result, however, as he missed the cut in 2012 after the weather turned on day two.
"It was a tough pill to swallow last year but I've learned a lot from that," he added. "The weather was so much colder and it was a big adjustment for me. It was a harsh lesson, but a lesson for life nevertheless."
Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is making his 25th consecutive European Masters appearance, sits two back of Lahiri at 6-under 65. The 2010 champion is joined in second place by Irish Open winner Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood, who earned his first career European Tour victory at the Johnnie Walker Championship in August.
"It was a hard week; I wasn't prepared for how hectic it would be," said the 22-year-old Fleetwood, who missed the cut in his previous start. "It was my first win and hard to take and it was a big comedown, but hopefully I'll be more prepared for my next win."
Thomas Bjorn, the 2011 champion, occupies solo fifth at 5-under 66.
Lahiri went out with the morning wave and parred three straight before tripping to a bogey at the 13th. From there, he caught fire, playing his final 14 holes at minus-9.
The hot stretch started with an eagle at the par-5 14th and continued with a birdie at the next. Lahiri added another eagle at the 18th, then notched four birdies during his bogey-free inward stretch to close with the lead.
Jimenez teed off in the afternoon and promptly displayed his extensive experience at Crans-sur-Sierre, countering his lone bogey at the par-3 third with seven birdies to move within striking distance.
"It is a very nice start," said the Spaniard. "I played very well today -- I can play this course with my eyes closed!"
NOTES: Defending champion Richie Ramsay is tied for 111th place at 2-over-par 73. He is attempting to become the first back-to-back winner of this event since Seve Ballesteros captured two straight in 1977-78 ... With many of the best players on the European Tour competing in the United States on the PGA Tour at the FedExCup Playoffs, there are no players ranked in the top 30 of the world in the field. The top-ranked player in the field, world No. 31 Matteo Manassero, is tied for 46th at 1-under 70.