McDowell kicks into gear at Austrian Open after month off

London: European Ryder Cup player Graeme McDowell overcame a slow start to shoot a three-under 69 while team mate Miguel Angel Jimenez carded a 72 in the first round of the Austrian Open.

South African George Coetzee returned a 65 to open a one-shot lead over Australia`s Terry Pilkadaris and Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara.

McDowell, playing his first tournament since the US PGA Championship a month ago, showed signs of rustiness by bogeying holes two and three but the U.S. Open champion rallied with five back-nine birdies.

"The third hole could have been a lot worse as I hit an awful tee shot into the middle of a bush and made a great five," the Briton told the European Tour`s website.

"I hung tough the first eight holes. I was two over but easily could have been three, four, five over the way I played."

Spaniard Jimenez, who has already won three times this season, began brightly with birdies at one and three but came unstuck with a double-bogey six at the 17th.

Jimenez and McDowell are preparing for the Ryder Cup match against the US holders at Celtic Manor in Wales from Oct. 1-3.

Bureau Report