James Morrison leads European Masters, Shubhankar Sharma makes 68

James Morrison shot a course record 60 to make a sizzling start to the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club

James Morrison - European Tour - Getty Images

27 August 2021: James Morrison shot a course record 60 at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club to open up a commanding three stroke lead on day one of the 2021 Omega European Masters. Shubhankar Sharma started the week with a 68, while SSP Chawrasia made one-over 71. 

Shubhankar took a tortuous route to a two-under score. His card included four birdies and an eagle. But he also conceded two bogeys and a double at the par-4 12th hole.

Starting from the tenth tee early on Thursday morning, Morrison reached the turn in 31, making the most of favourable scoring conditions to card an eagle and three birdies before closing his front nine with a bogey.

He then raised hopes of a rare 59 with further birdies on the first, second and fifth holes, before finishing with a hat-trick of gains to come up one shot short.

The 36-year-old had needed an eagle on the ninth – his last hole – to join ‘Mr 59’ Oliver Fisher in the record books, and he gave it a good go, aiming his approach into the green straight at the flag.

But it landed three feet from the cup and he had to settle for a closing birdie and the consolation prize of a new course record.

Robin Sciot-Siegrist and Marcus Armitage were Morrison’s nearest challengers on seven under after they posted opening 63s.

Morning starter Sciot-Siegrist bounced back from an opening bogey with eight birdies – including four in a row on the front nine.

Armitage then joined the Frenchman in a tie for second in the afternoon with a bogey free effort which contained three consecutive birdies on both nines.

Morrison knows his 18 hole total means very little if he does not perform over the next three days, and he is keen to push on as the week progresses.

He said: “It’s a four round event, my ten under isn’t going to win today, you’ll need to be minus 20 or plus. You’ve just got to keep your foot down and keep going and use that as a gee-up.

“I was in the first group out at 7.40 and the greens were just absolutely perfect this morning, with no wind.

“You know you’ve got to take advantage, but doing it is another thing.

“I holed a couple of good putts, chipped in at 11, and it just snowballed from there. Bogeyed the 18th, my ninth, to be four under par through nine, but it was just a good, solid start. Hit the right shots when I had to and made a few putts.

“It was funny, after I bogeyed the 18th I went to the first – which is probably the hardest hole on the course – and made birdie there.

“My caddie said ‘Come on, I think we can shoot 59 here’. I had eight holes to go and you use that as more of a mental push to keep going forward, use it more of a mental tool.

“I had a really good look on the last and thought ‘just try to make this’. The minute your focus goes like that, you chip it stiff, make birdie and shoot ten under par.

“I was trying to hole that shot on the last, but next time maybe.”

Andy Sullivan and Dean Burmester were in a tie for fourth on six under.