Gareth Maybin flying high in the Swiss Alps

Northern Ireland golfer two off Crans-sur-Sierre lead, Hoey, Harrington and Lowry well placed

 Gareth Maybin  in action at the  Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Gareth Maybin in action at the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

 

Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin is two off the lead of the Omega European Masters at the breathtaking Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club in the Swiss Alps after posting a round of 64.

Maybin and England’s Tommy Fleetwood had set the early pace before Scotland’s Richie Ramsay and Italy’s Edoardo Molinari carded 62s to share the lead on eight under.

Ramsay played the first three holes in four under, thanks largely to an eagle at the first. He picked up further shots at Seven, 12, 13 and 15.

The chance to make history briefly crossed former champion’s mind when he was left needing birdies on the last three to record the first ever 59 on the European Tour, but after a superb tee shot to six feet on the difficult 16th,

his birdie attempt slipped past the hole and parred the last two holes.

“On the 16th, I thought that if I could make my birdie putt I’d have a good chance, because the last two holes are decent chances for birdie,” Ramsay said. “But once I missed the putt, I obviously knew the game was up.”

Ramsay’s season has been disrupted by injury, but he arrived in Switzerland on the back of finishing joint fourth in the Italian Open on Sunday. The 31-year-old from Aberdeen won his second European Tour title here in 2012 and added: “There’s a great picture of me holing the winning putt with the big screen behind me, so it’d be nice to recreate that on Sunday. This course really suits me. It’s a proper golf course, you really need to think a lot and plot your way around, especially off the tee.

“Good shots get rewarded and poor shots get punished, which is exactly the way it should be. It’s a tricky course but if you get on a run, there’s definitely a low score to be had out there. I played really well two years ago and I was able to draw on those good memories on my way round today.”

Molinari’s round was similarly impressive, with five birdies on the way out and three on the way in.

Fleetwood’s effort contained an eagle, seven birdies, a double bogey and a bogey. Maybin, starting on the 10th tee, birdied 12, 17 and 18 to turn in three under before he tagged on further birdies at the first, third and fifth.

He missed a great chance to move to seven under when he was pin high in the light rough at the 331 yard, driveable par four, but couldn’t get up and down for his birdie.

This was compounded at the following hole when he recorded his only bogey of the round at the par three eighth, but his finished strongly with a birdie at the par five ninth.

There is a cluster of players one shot back on five under that includes Ryder Cup bound Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey and English pair, Seve Benson and David Lynn.

Hoey shot an opening round of five under 65 to lie, one shot behind the early leaders. The Northern Ireland golfer has suffered more than his fair share of injuries this season but underlined his quality with a round that contained six birdies and just a single dropped shot at the par four, 11th.

Hoey’s first birdie came at the eighth and he made further inroads against par at the ninth, 10th, 12th, 13th and 15th.

Shane Lowry signed for a four-under-par 66, a round that included an eagle at the first hole, his 10th, four birdies and two bogeys. He was on the same mark as another member of Paul McGinley’s Ryder Cup team, Thomas Bjorn, and the newly installed vice-captain Pádraig Harrington afte two eagles, three birdies and three bogeys.

Peter Lawrie is one under after opening with three birdies in a row before bogeys at seven and 18. Darren Clarke is four over after a 74.

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