Former champion Lee Westwood shot a course record nine under par 63 to head the leaderboard after the opening round of the Deutcsh Bank European Players Championship in Gut Kaden.
Winner of the title in 1998 and 2003, Westwood helped himself to six birdies on the back nine alone during a faultless round, coming home one stroke ahead of Retief Goosen and Robert Karlsson.
Speaking of his rejuvenated confidence, he said: ?From tee to green my confidence is high. I’ve got good control of the ball and lots of penetration on my iron shots.
?There’s nothing like holing putts to give your self confidence on the greens, so it was nice to roll a few in today that I’ve been missing, so that was a step in the right direction.?
Fellow Ryder Cup hopefuls Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Nick Dougherty will have further buoyed cup captain Ian Woosnam?s spirits as he looks to his men to bounce back form a disappointing week at Hoylake.
They carded scores of four under, three under and two under respectively to maintain sight of the leaders.
It wasn?t all good news for Woosnam, however, as wild card hopeful Thomas Bjorn was forced to withdraw from another tournament from injury. The Dane was forced to give up after complaining of wrist pains on the 12th hole. The 2003 runner up was one over at the time.