Two days after wondering if he was too tired to give The European Open his best shot, Ross Fisher beat The London Golf Club course record and claimed top spot on the leaderboard in the process.
The 27 year old Englishman, who three days ago finished joint third in The Open Championship qualifier at Sunningdale, closed with six successive birdies to record a spectacular nine under par 63 and lower the course record set by Seve Ballesteros in 1984.
The score, which was the lowest of his career, opened a two-stroke lead over Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and South African David Frost.
Fisher kicked off with two birdies and did not have to wait long for two more. After bogeying the short 17th, he covered the outward half in 30.
McDowell is in good spirits going into the second day after shooting six birdies and one eagle at a cost of one bogey
McDowell was joined in second by Frost, who shot nine birdies, but dropped shots on the 11th and 13th holes.
Frost’s playing partner, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, also scored well in the afternoon with a five under par 67 to lie in fourth place.
Defending champion Colin Montgomerie was three under par after eight but bogeys at the seventh and 18th brought him back to two under, while Open Champion Padraig Harrington, recovering from a stiff neck, returned a level par 72.
Leaderboard – Round 1:
1. Ross Fisher ENG 63 – 9
2. David Frost SAF 65 – 7
Greame McDowell NIR 65 – 7
4. Rory McIlroy NIR 67 – 5
5. Gonzalo Fdez-Castaňo ESP 68 – 4
Peter Hanson SWE 68 – 4
Peter Hedblom SWE 68 – 4
José Manuel Lara ESP 68 – 4
David Lynn ENG 68 – 4
Robert Rock ENG 68 – 4
Jeev Milkha Singh IND 68 – 4