Date: June 07, 2008

Barr blitzes in Austria

Australian Scott Barr has made a blistering start to the rain-affected Bank Austria Open with a scorching seven-under-par first round of 64 to take a share of the lead of the tournament that has been reduced to 54 holes. Barr had a shaky start to the day and was one-over after just two holes, but the Aussie didn&apost put a foot wrong from that moment onwards, reeling off eight birdies – including five in a row between the 5th and 9th holes – to storm to the top of the leaderboard. Barr&aposs compatriot Peter Fowler is a shot further back in a tie for sixth with Italian Emanuele Canonica on six under after both carded rounds of 65. Sharing the lead with Barr are local favourite Martin Wiegele, Swedish pair Pelle Edberg and Christian Nilsson, Irishman Gary Murphy and India&aposs Jeev Milkha Singh. Murphy admits his mind wanders to “stupid stuff” on the golf course but he will have to concentrate for just 36 more holes to claim a first European Tour title. Another major disruption to play could see the 1.1 million-pound ($AU 2,250,377) event shortened even further so Murphy was delighted to get off to a flying start with an opening round of 64, seven under par, for a six-way share of the lead. “It&aposs probably going to be a sprint this week so a 64 is a great start,” admitted Murphy, whose best performance in more than 200 tour events was third in the Irish Open three weeks ago. “I played well and putted really nicely. The greens are perfect so there are no excuses.” “I think I concentrated a lot better in Ireland because I wanted to do well at home. My biggest weakness is concentration, not thinking about stupid stuff and going home and having a few pints with the lads.” “You are out there for five hours so your mind wanders. The mental side of it is the hardest part of the game. You often hear guys who win a tournament saying they are exhausted, and I think it&aposs mental exhaustion.” Irish golfers have enjoyed plenty of success this season with victories for Damien McGrane, Peter Lawrie and Darren Clarke, and Murphy admits the success of Lawrie and McGrane in particular gives him extra cause for optimism. “In theory it should give me more self belief,” added the 35-year-old from Kilkenny. “It&aposs easy to say if your mates win then I should win but it doesn&apost work like that.” “It has probably raised the goals. The guys are way up the Order of Merit and I am down the Order of Merit so the yardstick has probably increased.” Former Volvo Masters winner Singh, the son of a former Olympic sprinter known as the “flying Sikh”, has been second twice this season and was 10th in the Wales Open on Sunday. “I&aposve been knocking on the door and it&aposs got to open,” he said. For the second year in succession, pre-tournament favourite Clarke was caught in a passing downpour on the 18th hole but this time managed a birdie four rather than a bogey six. However, that was still only good enough for a one-under 70 and the Ulsterman headed straight to the driving range after his round. Wiegele, who won the tour qualifying school last November, was nine under with three to play and had an outside chance for an historic round of 59, the first sub-60 score ever on the European Tour. However, bad drives at the 7th and 8th resulted in bogeys and the 29-year-old had to hole a good putt from five feet on the last for par. “I didn&apost think about a 59, I was just taking it shot by shot and then the difficult seventh hole came up and I blocked my tee shot,” explained Wiegele. “I did the same at the next and it nearly went in the water so I was happy to finish with a 64.” First Round of the BankAustria Golf Open (Par 71): -7: Scott Barr (Australia) 64, Pelle Edberg 64, Gary Murphy 64, Christian Nilsson 64, Jeev Milkha Singh 64, Martin Wiegele 64 -6: Emanuele Canonica 65, Peter Fowler (Australia) 65 -5: Thomas Aiken 66, Richard Bland 66, Liam Bond 66, Ian Garbutt 66, Adam Gee 66, Simon Wakefield 66 -4: Tim Dykes 67, Martin Erlandsson 67, Stephen Gallacher 67, Steven Jeppesen 67, Maarten Lafeber 67, Graeme McDowell 67, Steven O Hara 67, Terry Pilkadaris (Australia) 67, Alessandro Tadini 67, Anthony Wall 67, Fabrizio Zanotti 67 Also: -2: Mark Brown (New Zealand) 69, Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 69, Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 69, Scott Strange (Australia) 69 -1: Andrew Tampion (Australia) 70 E: Richard Green (Australia) 71 +5: Steve Alker (New Zealand) 76