David Lynn attributed the lowest round of his professional career to his successful putting after an opening seven-under-par 63 gave him a one-stroke lead in the KLM Dutch Open here yesterday.
The Briton started superbly with birdies on the first three holes, including a 20-foot putt on the second and a 30-foot effort on the third. He made another birdie on the seventh and, after dropping a shot at the 11th, bounced back immediately by hitting a three-iron to 25 feet and sinking the putt for an eagle three on the 486-yard 12th.
Two more birdies came at the 15th and 18th to leave him one ahead of Andrew Raitt, who had an eagle at the par-four second by holing a 134-yard nine-iron shot and then had five birdies in his last seven holes.
However, straight after his round, the Surrey golfer confirmed that he will retire from the sport at the end of this season. The 34-year-old is struggling to compete after a dog bit off part of his little finger in 1995, affecting not only his grip and swing but costing him around £400,000 in legal costs.
The New Zealander Stephen Scahill, who began with five successive birdies, the Ryder Cup hopeful Paul McGinley, the Australian Richard Green and the Austrian Martin Wiegele were all five under.
The Swedes Per Nyman and Patrik Sjoland, and the Scot Raymond Russell were a shot further back after on 66. Ian Poulter, another hoping to make his Ryder Cup future clearer after this week, was three under with fellow Englishmen David Dixon and Miles Tunnicliff and Welshman David Park.
Lynn said that he been working on his putting and that time had paid off yesterday. "The putter came out hot to start with," he said after taking just 24 putts in his first round.
"My game's been feeling really good the last few months. My putting has not been great, but it's been a bit of a reversal today. I was working on my putting on Tuesday, and my putting has dropped in and is feeling really nice. But my game does not feel as in control as it has been."
Lynn is 25th on the Ryder Cup European points list and is a long shot for the team. "People have asked me and I've said I would have to win three [tournaments]. Stranger things have happened," he added. "If I won this one and was to lead the BMW International [in Germany in two weeks] going into the final round I might have a thought or two."
In contrast, a downbeat Raitt said after his round: "I just don't like playing golf any more. I'll play out the Tour and then that will be it."
McGinley, who is in with a chance of a Ryder Cup place, believes he has to win £200,000 in the next four tournaments to stand a chance.
He almost did not come here as he wanted to rest his knee - on which he had surgery earlier this year - after seven tournaments in a row, but was persuaded to do so by his manager, Andrew Chandler. "It looks as if it was the right decision to come now. Sixty-five is a great score round here and I'm off to a great start," said McGinley. "It has not been a course that has been that kind to me - maybe it has got a bit of making up to do."