Date: July 04, 2008

Aussies struggle as Fisher soars

The 10-man Australasian contingent struggled in the opening round of the European Open in England as local Ross Fisher produced the lowest round of his Tour career to take an early lead. The 27-year-old from Surrey, whose biggest impact previously this season was to blow a chance to beat Phil Mickelson with a closing triple-bogey eight, broke The London Club course record with a nine-under-par 63. He leads by two from Northern Ireland&aposs Graeme McDowell and 48-year-old South African David Frost. But for the Australasians, it was a disappointing day with Marcus Fraser, Richard Green, Matthew Millar and New Zealand&aposs Gareth Paddison all shooting one-over 73s to sit eight strokes from the lead. Scott Strange is at two-over, while Kiwi Mark Brown and Aussies Peter O&aposMalley and Peter Senior are a stroke further back after opening 75s. Fisher, though, was all class as he finished with six successive birdies to leave some of the biggest names on the circuit trailing in his wake. “A little bit surreal,” he said Fisher of his performance. “It&aposs probably the best, most solid round of golf I&aposve played and on the front nine [he began on the 10th] the hole was as big as a bucket.” Winner of his first Tour title in Holland last August, he came through the 36-hole Open qualifier at Sunningdale on Monday and discussed with his manager how much he had left in the tank for this week. Asked if he considered pulling out, Fisher replied: “I sort of had a thought about it. I was feeling pretty tired, but how do you pull out of an event when you live only 40 minutes away?” “It&aposs pretty difficult to sit at home and watch it on TV, knowing that you are playing well.” “So I thought, &aposLet&aposs see how we go&apos. Have a few days off and if I feel fine I&aposll play.” While six players were tested on the first day of golf&aposs new anti-doping era, Fisher kicked off with two birdies, did not have to wait long for two more and, after bogeying the short 17th, covered the outward half in 30. Paul McGinley was six-under with two to play, but followed a bogey on the short 17th with a drive into water for a closing double-bogey six and a 69. Playing partner Justin Rose shot the same, while Darren Clarke, striving for a top-five finish to qualify for The Open, returned a 71 like Sergio Garcia. First Round Scores from the European Open, England -9: Ross Fisher 63 -7: David Frost 65, Graeme McDowell 65 -5: Rory McIlroy 67 -4: Gonzalo Fdez-Castano 68, Peter Hanson 68, Peter Hedblom 68, Jose Manuel Lara 68, David Lynn 68, Robert Rock 68, Jeev Milkha Singh 68 Also: +1: Marcus Fraser (Australia) 73, Richard Green (Australia) 73, Matthew Millar (Australia) 73, Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 73 +2: Scott Strange (Australia) 74 +3: Peter O&aposMalley (Australia) 75, Peter Senior (Australia) 75, Mark Brown (New Zealand) 75 +4: Peter Fowler (Australia) 76 +5: Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 77