GRAEME Storm has not tasted victory on golf’s big stage for six years.
But the Hartlepool star has made the perfect start in a bid for his first European Tour title since lifting the French Open in 2007.
Storm finished day one on top of the leaderboard at the Lyoness Open, powered by Greenfinity.
The 35-year-old carded a sensational six-under-par 66 in Austria to share top spot with Frenchman Alexander Levy.
It would not be unfair to say Storm’s run of form in 2013 has been hit and miss and, unfortunately, more miss than hit.
Last week he failed to make the cut at the Nordea Masters in Stockholm but he was the big hit of yesterday’s opening round at Diamond Country Club.
Storm played almost-flawless golf on the 7,386-yard course at Atzenbrugg.
Water hazzards feature heavily at the venue whose strength has been tested by heavy rain in the build up to the tournament.
But Storm found the fairways and greens with ease which both played well.
He began well with a three at the par four four second but his birdie blitz took place in and around the turn.
Storm birdied the seventh and eighth before sinking his birdie putt at the shortest hole on the course, the 184-yard ninth.
And he showed his liking for the par threes with another two at the 202-yard 11th.
Storm continued his great form with back-to-back birdies, a four at the 13th followed by a three athe par-four 14th.
It meant the Poolie was out on front on his own by two shots.
He was on target for a 65 but there was disappointment at the last where he registered his first blue figure of the afternoon with a five at the 457-yard 18th.
It will have been a minor irritation for the Hartlepool Golf Club member who signed for a 66.
“I stayed very composed and tee to green I played as well as I could have,” said Storm, who missed the cut here last year after rounds of 73 and 74.
“I think I only missed three greens and I holed a few nice putts.
“I felt as though I could have shot eight under, but I missed a couple of chances.
“It’s slightly disappointing bogeying the last as I had the perfect yardage for a six iron. I just pulled it a bit, which I did with a couple of irons in the last few holes, so I’ll be going to the range after lunch to fix that.
“Other than that I played great all day. I had a nice little run on seven, eight and nine, and should have birdied the tenth as well.
“If you miss the fairways the rough is so long, so it’s tough.
“Hitting the fairways is very important here.
“The course is great though given the conditions they’ve had.”
Levy also carded seven birdies and was on course for a 65 but, like Storm, he too bogeyed the last.
They finished a shot in front of Ryder Cup hero Miguel Angel Jiménez, who is on the comeback trail after breaking his leg in a ski-ing accident last December.
The 49-year-old Spanish veteran also sank seven birdies but was pegged back by bogeys at the 15th and second.
At the other end of the age scale, former Amateur Championship runner-up Matthias Schwab was alongside Jimenez.
The 18-year-old Austrian amateur sank five birdies in a bogey-free 67, the same figure as China’s Wen-chong Liang.