Harrington struggles with new swing in Austrian Open, where Bond leads

padraig harrington
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In the first competitive round with his new swing, Padraig Harrington racked up four bogeys and a double bogey in a back-nine 40.
By
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Welshman Liam Bond was the surprise leader after the first round of the European Tour’s Austrian Open on Thursday as professional debutants Tom Lewis and Paul Cutler both found the going tough.

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 3-over 75. The back nine was where the problems lay for the Irishman, who racked up four bogeys and a double bogey to come home in 40.

American John Daly came to grief on the front nine (his back nine), slipping from 4 under to 2 over, while defending champion Jose Manuel Lara posted a 75 and fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez a 73.

Lewis and Cutler were part of the European Walker Cup team that beat its 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 5-under-par round to share the lead on the first day at the British Open in July. He didn’t make such a good start today, though, bogeying two of his first five holes at Diamond Country Club and ending his round with a 2-over total of 74.

Northern Irishman Cutler fared even worse, managing only one birdie in a round of 5 over par that included a double-bogey 7 at the seventh.

Their fellow Walker Cup teammate 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 on his 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 Q-School beckons unless he can achieve some much-improved results.

And he gave himself the perfect chance to do just that after a 6-under-par 66 that featured only one bogey and saw him finish with four birdies in his last five holes.

Bond leads by one shot over 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.

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