Shane Lowry and Michael Hoey were the only Irishmen to break par as Grégory Bourdy carded the joint lowest of his European Tour career to take a two-stroke lead in the Omega European Masters.
Aided by Bray caddie John Mulrooney, who was on the bag for Darren Clarke’s Open Championship triumph last year, the Frenchman defied driving rain at Crans-sur-Sierre to post a flawless eight under par round of 63.
That matched his previous best effort at the 2008 Estoril Open de Portugal, a tournament he went on to win, and the Frenchman is hoping the omens are good as he goes in search of his fourth European Tour title at this week’s €2.1million tournament.
Bourdy said: “It was just a great day, I don’t think I’ve ever played better. I played very well on the first day in Portrush, but that was right up there.
“This course isn’t the most difficult, but it’s not the easiest either because you have to hit the ball very straight, and I managed to do that today. I only missed one shot all day, but still managed to save par. My attitude was very good, I was very positive and that’s why I finished very well.”
Second place is shared by Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Hed and England’s Oliver Fisher, who both notched seven birdies and a solitary bogey to sign for rounds of 65.
Lowry birdied two of his last three holes to open with a two under 69 that left him tied for 33rd as Hoey carded two birdies and a bogey in a steady 70.
Peter Lawrie was one under with six holes remaining but bogeyed the 13th and 17th for a 72 to lie two shots outside the projected cut mark on one over.
It was a tough day for the European Ryder Cup contingent with European skipper José María Olazábal and vice captains Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley all joining Lawrie in tied 92nd after 72s.
Clarke birdied the last after taking a double bogey seven at the 15th while McGinley came back from three bogeys in his first four holes with birdies at the sixth, seventh and 15th before a bogey at the short 16th.
Ballyclare’s Gareth Mabyin, a tenuous 95th in the Race to Dubai, was also three over after four having started on the back nine.
But while he also got his round back to even par after birdies at the 15th, 18th and first, he bogeyed the sixth to finish on 72.
The first three holes on the back nine also caused problems for Damien McGrane, who turned in level par with two birdies and two bogeys before dropping four shots over that stretch.
A birdie at the last gave McGrane a three over 74, which was one better than former world No 1 Greg Norman, who suffered a scare when “when the nose landing gear in his private jet malfunctioned upon landing at Geneva Airport in Switzerland”