Lahiri now more accustomed to rarefied atmosphere
Two eagles on his front nine set Indian up for eight under par round of 63
Anirban Lahiri of India: his eight under par round of 63 included two eagles. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
India’s Anirban Lahiri struggled to adjust to the effects of altitude during his first few visits to Crans-sur-Sierre but an opening-round of 63 at the Omega European Masters suggests he has got to grips with his difficulties.
The 26-year-old missed the cut on his three previous appearances in the Swiss mountains but this year posted an eight-under total early in the day which was never threatened.
Starting on the back nine, he dropped a shot at the short 13th but immediately eagled the 597-yard next, birdied the 15th and then holed his approach to the par-four 18th for another eagle to turn in 31. He added four further birdies to set a pace which was never really threatened by the afternoon starters.
“Halfway through the round I really got it going,” he said. “I didn’t really get off to a great start. I was one over through four holes and a couple of eagles on the back nine got my momentum going and I’m happy I managed to focus all the way through.
“I’ve learned my lessons over the last few years: the first couple of years I was lost and didn’t know what to do with altitude and my yardages were all over the place. I have settled down and know what to expect.”
Casey’s front nine of 32 included two birdies and an eagle and he added three further birdies coming home, although a bogey at the 14th slowed his progress.
Fleetwood, winner of his maiden European Tour event at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles a fortnight ago, missed the cut at Celtic Manor last week but fared better in Switzerland.
The 22-year-old bogeyed two of his first seven holes but back-to-back birdies at 17 and 18 allowed him to turn at one under and an eagle three at the first and three more birdies saw him close with a 65 alongside fellow morning starter Jimenez.
“I felt a lot better about my game from Monday onwards,” Fleetwood said of last week’s failure. “It was a hard week, I wasn’t prepared for how hectic it would be.
“It was my first win and hard to take and it was a big comedown but hopefully I’ll be more prepared for my next win.
“I have got off to a good start so I need to focus on moving forward this week.”
Another former winner Thomas Bjorn, victorious in 2011, carded a five-under 66 to put him just ahead of a group which included England’s Richard Finch, Ireland’s Michael Hoey, Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher and ex-Ryder Cup captain Jose-Maria Olazabal.
Darren Clarke showed signs of a return to form with a two under par 69 while Padraig Harrington and Gareth Maybin were among a large group on 70.