Cape Town – Maximilian Kieffer fired his lowest opening round for five years to take the lead after day one of the European Masters on Thursday.
The German birdied three of his last five holes at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club on the way to a 64 that left him at six under, a shot clear of Frenchman Julien Guerrier, Dane Søren Kjeldsen, England’s Andy Sullivan and Japanese Hideto Tanihara.
“I managed to stay out of the trouble today and played nicely. It was a good day, I played very good tee to green and holed a few putts, so I can’t complain,” said Kieffer.
“I played pretty good my first year, I finished just outside the top ten but since then not really. I love the place though, it’s so nice, and it’s a good place to stay calm on the golf course.
“I have played very well the last couple of weeks and have been hitting the ball nicely since Sweden and the putting feels ok as well, so just trying to stay calm with the mind and hopefully keep the confidence up.”
Scot David Drysdale, Spaniard Nacho Elvira and South African pair Erik van Rooyen and Justin Walters were then two shots off the lead at four under.
Kieffer has established himself as one of the most consistent players on the European Tour since graduating from the Challenge Tour in 2012, keeping his card every season since, and recently finished third at the Nordea Masters for his first top ten of the season.
Belgian pair Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters, New Zealander Ryan Fox, Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal, French duo Alexander Levy and Matthieu Pavon, England’s Aaron Rai and South African Charl Schwartzel were all at three under.
Last week’s winner Matt Wallace and local favourite Benjamin Rusch were at two under, a shot ahead of defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Round One Scores:
64 M Kieffer (Ger)
65 A Sullivan (Eng) , S Kjeldsen (Den) , J Guerrier (Fra) , H Tanihara (Jpn)
66 N Elvira (Esp) , D Drysdale (Sco) , E Van Rooyen (RSA) , J Walters (RSA)
67 A Rai (Eng) , A Levy (Fra) , P Larrazábal (Esp) , T Pieters (Bel) , R Fox (Nzl) , T Detry (Bel) , C Schwartzel (RSA) , M Pavon (Fra)
68 T Aiken (RSA) , L Canter (Eng) , A Johnston (Eng) , L Westwood (Eng) , D Ghim (USA) , J Geary (Nzl) , C Wood (Eng) , M Wallace (Eng) , R Rock (Eng) , P Khongwatmai (Tha) , B Rusch (Sui) , L Slattery (Eng) , S Gallacher (Sco) , L Bjerregaard (Den) , D Fichardt (RSA) , M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) , A Chesters (Eng) , D Willett (Eng) , D Lipsky (USA)
69 M Southgate (Eng) , S Jamieson (Sco) , G Bourdy (Fra) , D Burmester (RSA) , A Björk (Swe) , M Fitzpatrick (Eng) , G Coetzee (RSA) , M Kaymer (Ger) , J Lagergren (Swe) , O Fisher (Eng) , R Sterne (RSA) , G Green (Mas) , M Korhonen (Fin) , R Wattel (Fra) , C Shinkwin (Eng) , F Zanotti (Par) , S Chawrasia (Ind) , D Brooks (Eng) , G Havret (Fra) , J Scrivener (Aus) , J Donaldson (Wal) , C Blomstrand (Swe) , R Karlsson (Swe) , H Porteous (RSA)
70 J Morrison (Eng) , M Baldwin (Eng) , A Connelly (Can) , B Hebert (Fra) , D Horsey (Eng) , N Bertasio (Ita) , R Bland (Eng) , M Kinhult (Swe) , E Molinari (Ita) , M Foster (Eng) , A Wu (Chn) , R Fisher (Eng) , J Dantorp (Swe) , A Pavan (Ita) , J Winther (Den) , S Hend (Aus) , B Rumford (Aus) , K Koivu (Fin) , R Gouveia (Por) , W Ormsby (Aus)
71 A Otaegui (Esp) , M Nixon (Eng) , C Koepka (USA) , M Manassero (Ita) , P Waring (Eng) , N Colsaerts (Bel) , M Schwab (Aut) , D Howell (Eng) , S Lee (Kor) , J Van Zyl (RSA) , B Dredge (Wal) , G Fernandez – Castaño (Esp) , H Sturehed (Swe) , M Ilonen (Fin) , R Gonzalez (Arg) , O Farr (Wal) , P Dunne (Irl) , J Wang (Kor) , M Warren (Sco) , K Aphibarnrat (Tha) , B Neil (Sco) , C Bezuidenhout (RSA)
72 D Im (USA) , S Horsfield (Eng) , R McEvoy (Eng) , J Blixt (Swe) , R Ramsay (Sco) , A Cañizares (Esp) , P Oriol (Esp) , A Romero (Arg) , S Sharma (Ind) , M Siem (Ger) , A Bland (Aus) , S Fernandez (Esp) , L Gagli (Ita) , H Li (Chn) , N Gerhardsen (am) (Sui)
73 C Sordet (Fra) , C Hanson (Eng) , S Heisele (Ger) , S Brazel (Aus) , F Aguilar (Chi) , L Jensen (Den) , A Dodt (Aus) , L Galliano (Sui) , G Folk (am) (Aut)
74 R Evans (Eng) , R Paratore (Ita) , J Thomson (Eng) , A Saddier (Fra) , J Kruyswijk (RSA) , C Ford (Eng) , M Grönberg (Swe) , R De Sousa (Sui) , J Campillo (Esp) , M Jiménez (Esp) , T Pulkkanen (Fin) , C Syme (Sco) , Z Lombard (RSA) , M Eggenberger (Sui) , L Schüpbach (am) (Sui) , R Foley (am) (Sui)
75 T Jaidee (Tha) , J Choi (Kor) , M Fraser (Aus) , R Cho (Kor)
77 J Daly (USA) , P Edberg (Swe) , C Pigem (Esp) , R Jacquelin (Fra)
78 M Dobias (Sui) , S Brown (Eng) , Y Miyazato (Jpn)
79 J Norris (Aus)
80 C Gugler (am) (Sui)
84 S Gros (Fra)