England’s Adam Gee and Sweden’s Mikael Lundberg shot dueling 5-under 67s to open up a one-stroke lead on the first day of the Lyoness Open in Austria.
Both players are on the outside looking in for the Race to Dubai – which takes just the Top 60 men in the world in prize money earned. But winning Lyoness and its top prize of €166,600 could go a long way towards changing that for one of them.
Gee, ranked 189th in the Race to Dubai and 693rd in the world, could have had the lead outright but he bogeyed No. 18 after not having a single hole greater than par all day. The 33-year-old Englishman who has just one top 25 finish this year was 3-under at the turn, got to 5-under with an eagle 2 on the 370-yard No. 13, and birdied No. 16 for his slip on the final hole of the round.
The 40-year-old Lundberg has finished in the top 40 in two of his last three events and has two European Tour victories on his resume, although none since 2008.
He birdied No. 1 and bogeyed No. 2, then knocked in five birdies in a nine-hole stretch between No. 7 and No. 16.
Four players are tied for third at a stroke back of the co-leaders, two of those being men just outside the Top 60 of the Race to Dubai standings: England’s Richard Finch and Matthew Baldwin. Wales’ Rhys Davies and the US’ Berry Henson are also in the mix after shooting 68s on Thursday.
The most prominent player in the field, Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, is tied for 14th at 2-under. The 50-year-old Spanish Open champion is ranked 7th in the Race to Dubai and 27th in the world.
Jimenez was 3-under at the turn, but bogeyed No. 11 and No. 14 to drop a bit further back into the pack.
The Netherlands’ Joost Luiten, No. 14 in the Race to Dubai and the Lyoness Open defending champion, shot an even-par 72 and is tied for 34th. Luiten looked like he owned the place out of the gate, with three birdies in his first four holes.
That fast start didn’t hold as he bogeyed No. 9 and 10 back-to-back, and did the same on 15 and 16 before saving a birdie putt on No. 17.