Fraser and Zanotti share lead after first round of BMW International

Marcus Fraser, BMW International Open
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Marcus Fraser birdied two of his opening three holes and five of his last six en route to a 64, his lowest score in 21 rounds in the prestigious BMW International Open.
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PGA.com news services

Series: European Tour

COLOGNE, Germany -- No Australians have won on the European or PGA Tours this season, and Marcus Fraser thinks that will change soon. He could end the drought this weekend.

Fraser shot an 8-under 64 on Thursday and is tied for the lead after the opening round of the BMW International Open.

Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay, who is without a win on the European Tour, had two eagles while also posting a 64. Chris Wood, Danny Willett and Paul McGinley were next at 65.

Fraser birdied two of his opening three holes and five of his last six, including a long birdie putt on No. 18 at the Gut Larchenhof course. It was Fraser's lowest score in 21 rounds in the prestigious German event.

''It's a great start and I just drove the ball really straight, missing just one fairway,'' he said. ''The greens were also quite nice this morning and I managed to make a few putts while that one at the last, a good 35 to 40 feet, was great to see drop.''

No Australian has won in Europe or America since August, when Adam Scott captured the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio.

''I am sure that will change shortly, as there's a lot of great Australians playing over in the States and a good few playing here in Europe,'' Fraser said. ''It's maybe just one of those things, as a few years ago everyone was just accustomed to a lot of Australians winning in America. So I am sure another Australian win is not too far away.''

Zanotti also had seven birdies, a bogey and a double bogey during his wild first round.

''I made a lot of good putts today and the only bad shot I hit was in taking a double bogey,'' he said. ''It is very good for me to share the lead in a big tournament like this and it helps me getting used to it.''

McGinley finished his round with three threes, including an eagle on 16 and a birdie on 18.

''That was a great finish and it's turned a good day into a great day,'' McGinley said.

France's Gregory Havret, South Africa's Keith Horne, Sweden's Pelle Edberg and India's Shiv Kapur all shot 66s.

John Daly rewarded one of the biggest galleries on the course with a 4-under 68, and outplaying partners and potential European Ryder Cup qualifiers Paul Lawrie of Scotland (72) and Alvaro Quiros of Spain (73).

Daly, who won this event in 2001, attributed his good form to a putting tip from longtime friend Lance Awe.

''I have pretty much loosened up my grip on everything and particularly the putter, so as to get more feel,'' Daly said. ''Lance caddied for me at the Colonial and a few other events, and said 'Why don't you do what you did when you were 16?' so I figured I would take his advice.''

The two-time major champion also had five woods in his bag for the first time in his career.

''I've always played with blades as I hit my long irons really low but I saw how soft the course was, and the fact that so many other guys out here have hybrids,'' he said. ''They are a lot easier to hit and I am really still getting used to them, and no offense to the senior players but I feel like they're senior clubs.''

Before posting his 65, Wood staged his own version of 'The Great Escape.' Among a number of golfers stuck in traffic and worried they might miss their tee times, the 24-year-old from England led a breakaway movement through the fields.

"We finally decided to leg it when we had gone one kilometer in 20 minutes -- it was that bad," Wood said. "It was about 3.5 kilometres and I was a bit sweaty when I got here, but it was worth it."

Wood, still seeking his maiden victory on the European Tour after three runner-up finishes, grabbed nine birdies to go with two bogeys.

"It was the best I've putted all year," added Wood, perhaps best known for his fifth-place in the 2008 British Open when still an amateur and then his tie for third the following year at Turnberry.

Scoring was low following some heavy rain, but that did not help Paul Casey on his latest return from injury. Ten years on from scoring a career-low 62 on the same layout, Casey -- who missed last week's U.S. Open to give his shoulder more rest -- managed only a 76 to be down near the rear of the 156-strong field.

McGinley, meanwhile, continued exactly where he left off in Wales three weeks ago. The 2002 Ryder Cup hero eagled the 577-yard 16th from 30 feet and then almost holed his approach to the difficult 456-yard last.

"It turned a good day into a great day," McGinley said. "In all my life I don't think I've been on that 16th in two before -- that's new technology for you."

Colin Montgomerie, back from TV commentary work in San Francisco, shot 69, but local favourite Martin Kaymer struggled with jet lag -- "I only slept for two hours," he said -- and had to settle for a 71, the same as Sergio Garcia.

It was a disappointing day too for Lawrie. He chose not to enter the U.S. Open because he didn’t think it would help his bid for a return to the Ryder Cup after a 13-year gap, but he might well have to improve on his opening 72 just to survive the cut.