Atzenburg, (Austria): Gaganjeet Bhullar fired a three-under 69 in the opening round to make an impressive start at the Austrian Open golf tournament at the Diamond Country Club here.
After the first round, Bhullar was two behind early leader Thomas Norret of Denmark.
Bhullar`s decision to skip the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open and instead play the Austrian Open paid rich dividends for the the 23-year-old Indian.
He tuned in a three-under 33 before coming home in level par.
Bhullar had three birdies on the front nine on first, third and ninth and then on the back nine, he birdied the 13th and 15th, but also had bogeys on 10th and 16th.
Norret established the clubhouse target with a five-under par 67.
The 37-year-old Qualifying School graduate is currently 173rd on The Race to Dubai and needs a big end to his season in order to retain his card. Joost Luiten and Steve Webster were six-under through 15 and 14 holes.
Miguel Angel Jim?nez, the highest-ranked player in the field, went round in a one-over 73.
As expected, Bhullar seemed contended with his performance in the opening round.
"It was quite chilly this morning and the wind picked up as the day went on. I found 16 greens in regulation and I concentrated on the routine and process. I hit the ball well and putted well. I read the greens quite well and I just missed one birdie putt on 16th," said the youngster, who has two wins on Asian Tour and one on European Challenge Tour.
Talking of the Czech Open, where he had a top-10 finish last month, Bhullar added, "The course reminds me of Czech Open. The wind was a factor there also and the greens were fast and true. I have positive memories and I hope I can repeat it here. Who knows, this could be my week."
"The more I play in Europe, the better I will become. I played four weeks in Europe, then went to Macau, where it was hot and humid and the ball did not fly. Now I am here and it is cold and I have learnt to play in jumpers. I am learning and it will be nice if I can play and get a card for 2012. Then I would like to base myself in Europe and maybe make UK as the base because we have lot of friends there," he added.
Bhullar, who won the first-ever European Challenge Tour event in India earlier this year, is hoping to emulate Jeev Milkha Singh, who won the Austrian Open in 2008.