Atzenbrugg, Austria – Welshman Liam Bond fired a six-under 66 round lead of the Austrian GolfOpen at Diamond Country Club.
Thomas Norret, Daniel Gaunt and Joost Luiten share second place at five-under 67, followed by Steve Webster, whose four-under 68 on Thursday left him in fifth.
Blustery conditions greeted the field that teed off Thursday morning, but the afternoon saw calmer, much more benign conditions.
Bond began in the afternoon wave and off the 10th tee. a hole he promptly birdied to immediately break into red figures.
After a bogey at the 12th, Bond atoned for the error with a birdie at the 13th. He birdied the par-three 15th and parred his last three on his first nine to make the turn in two-under par.
"I had a couple of really good up and downs early in the round to stay under par when I could have easily slipped back over par," said Bond, a 41-year-old rookie.
Bond parred his first four holes on the second side, then caught fire. He rattled off three consecutive birdies from the fifth to join the logjam atop the leaderboard at five-under par.
He parred the eighth, then knocked his tee ball to six feet at the 184-yard, par-three ninth. Bond drained the birdie effort to take sole possession of the lead.
"I putted nicely today," said Bond. "I had the ball rolling at a very good speed. I haven't been the best with the putter on tour this year so it was very nice to strike the ball well and see a lot of them go in the hole. I have to say that the greens here are outstanding."
What hasn't been outstanding has been Bond's play in 2011.
He's been in the top 25 only once, and that came at the BMW International in late June. Since, Bond missed five cuts in a row heading into this week, so his play on Thursday was inspired.
"I have played alright this year," said Bond. "I think I have missed five cuts by a single shot so that tells you that you are not playing badly, things just went my way today.
"I had a good talk with Phillip Price recently and he was saying that when he was playing badly he was missing cuts by miles, but when you are only missing by a shot then you are not too far away and all you need is a little bit of luck or something to click into place and you are back on track. There was always light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully today is the start of things going my way."
Joakim Haeggman, Birgir Hafthorsson, Gary Orr and Gaganjeet Bhullar are knotted in sixth place at three-under 69.
Thursday marked the professional debut of three members of the victorious GB&I Walker Cup team.
Andy Sullivan was the best of the bunch with an even-par 72, while Tom Lewis, who shared the first-round lead of this year's Open Championship, had a two- over 74. Paul Cutler struggled to a five-over 77.
NOTES: Padraig Harrington and defending champion Jose Manuel Lara both had three-over 75s on Thursday...Mikael Lundberg and Petr Gal both withdrew in round one.