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Austrian Open: Baptism of fire for our new pro Cutler

Welshman Liam Bond was the surprise leader after the first round of the Austrian Golf Open at Atzenbrugg as Portstewart’s Paul Cutler and England’s Tom Lewis found the going tough on their professional debuts.

Rough cut: Ulsterman Paul Cutler is five over after yesterday’s opening round at the Austrian Open

Lewis and Cutler were part of the European Walker Cup team who beat their American rivals earlier this month before making the decision to leave their amateur days behind them.

For Lewis in particular, the expectations are already sky high, with the 20-year-old shooting to prominence by carding a five-under-par round to share the lead on the first day at the Open in July, eventually picking up the Silver Medal.

He did not make such a good start yesterday, though, bogeying two of his first five holes at Diamond Country Club and ending his round with a two-over total of 74.

Cutler fared even worse, managing only one birdie in a round of five over par that included a double-bogey seven at the seventh.

Their fellow Walker Cup team-mate Andy Sullivan fared better, the Englishman recovering from a double bogey at the first to post a level-par score of 72.

That Bond is playing on the European Tour at all is a testament to his persistence.

The 41-year-old finally came through Qualifying School last year at the 16th attempt having looked set to achieve the feat 12 months previously only to bogey his final two holes.

He has not pulled up any trees at the higher level thus far, with five successive missed cuts prior to this week, and another trip to Qualifying School beckons unless he can achieve some much-improved results.

And he gave himself the perfect chance to do just that after a six-under-par 66, which featured only one bogey and saw him finish with four birdies in his last five holes.

Bond leads by one shot from Australian Daniel Gaunt, Joost Luiten of Holland and Dane Thomas Norret, who was out in front for much of the day thanks to his 67.

He said: “I hit a lot of good iron shots and holed a lot of putts. The greens here are fantastic and I managed to read the right way so it's nice to make a great start.”

It was not such a good day for some of the more famous names

in the tournament, with Padraig Harrington's new swing not helping him arrest his slump in form as the three-time Major winner had to settle for a three-over 75.

The back nine was where the problems lay for Harrington, who racked up four bogeys and a double bogey to come home in 40.

Harrington’s miserable round was due more to the loss of an ‘old friend’ than the Dubliner's new swing.

The face caved in on Harrington's faithful five-wood in practice, the club he used to play the 2008 ‘Shot of the Year’ into 17 at Royal Birkdale to set up the eagle which won the British Open.

Harrington certainly had no luck with the replacement. “It cost me four shots,” he said. “I hit it in the water twice.”

Flamboyant American John Daly came to grief on the front nine, slipping from four under to two over, while defending champion Jose Manuel Lara posted a 75 and fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez a 73.

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