Bernd Wiesberger carded nine birdies and an eagle as the Austrian took a two-shot clubhouse lead on the opening day of the Porsche European Open, where play was suspended overnight due to darkness following a three hour and 25 minute fog delay to the start of play.
The three-time European Tour winner reached the turn in five under after teeing off at the tenth, but his round hit the skids at the first following a double bogey six. He recovered marvellously, however, picking up a shot each on the following two holes before two birdies and an eagle at the eighth helped him to an eight under 63.
Two shots back from the lead was 19 year old Renato Paratore of Italy, who also suffered a double bogey but had six birdies and an eagle to thank for a six under 65.
Half of the field, including Ryder Cup players Martin Kaymer and Thomas Pieters and their playing partner Ernie Els, were still out on the course when play was called to a halt but it was Matthew Southgate making the biggest charge – the Englishman was five under through 12 to share third place overnight.
Bernd Wiesberger said, “I think I might not play any practice rounds any time soon! Obviously I played alright, had a couple of shots that cost me believe it or not. I hit it out of bounds on the first hole after I made a good turn, struggled a little bit.”
“But I hit a lot of good shots, a lot of good putts and I’m happy with how I played today. It was a lot of red on the card, I don’t think I’ve had that kind of round before.”
“I came here not overly practiced from the last week, I had a couple of company days and took it quite easy, then went on the range on Tuesday and felt like I was swinging it really well.”
“I felt like I was controlling the ball well and I was working a bit on my long game and for the most part it was pretty good, I felt steady over the ball and felt that I could go for it. That helps on a course like this which is playing longer than last year. Overall I had quite a confident mood going into the day.”
“I started with 64 last year (before missing the cut) so I desperately wanted to hole that putt at the last today so there weren’t too many memories of last year’s round. I’m thinking more of what happened today, keep pushing and playing the game I played today. What happened a year ago, it was a weird week and I know I’m not going to repeat that tomorrow.”
Renato Paratore said, “Today was a really good day. I started really nicely, two under after four holes. Then I made one double bogey but after that I played really well, especially with the putter.”
“On this course you have a lot of opportunities, but you have to play straight from the tee because it can be a tricky course.”
“It’s playing nicely, considering the weather it has had, it was in very nice condition. The greens were nice to play on.”
“It didn’t make a lot of difference to me that there was no practice round because I played the course last year. It’s not really much different, but it’s always better to have a practice round so it was a little bit strange.”
Michael Jonzon was pleased with his day, saying “I’m very happy with that 66. I played solidly. I got a call yesterday afternoon about two o’clock – I was on the range at home – that I was in if I wanted to play. I was fourth reserve so I hadn’t prepared or anything.”
“I rushed home and got a ticket, rushed here and got around four hours’ sleep last night. Obviously playing in a nice group today always helps. I played nicely.”
“To be honest, I was just happy to play. I played a couple of times here on the Challenge Tour so I know the place. I knew everyone didn’t have a practice round here either so we were even par on that.”
“I just love playing on the tour so it was a nice bonus. It has been a while since I’ve played in a big group, and I feel at home when I play in big groups and big tournaments so I just need to find a way to get back here soon. Obviously that’s why I still play, I just absolutely love competing – it’s the best feeling in the world.”