(Reuters) - England's Paul Casey overcame chilly conditions and a sore throat to grab a one-shot lead on day one of the European Open in Germany on Thursday.
World number 17 Casey showcased his powerful driving and precise iron play on the third longest course on the European Tour to card a six-under-par 66, including five birdies on the last eight holes.
Austrian Matthias Schwab was Casey's closest challenger with an opening 67, one shot ahead of Scotland's Robert MacIntyre, Englishman Ben Stow and home favourite Max Rottluff.
Casey, who last won on the European Tour at the KLM Open in 2014, was pleased with his performance at Green Eagle Golf Course in Hamburg.
"It was a really good round of golf," he said. "Yeah sure, there were a few putts that slid by but that is such a difficult golf course. I can't explain how difficult that golf course is.
"I was happy with the patience I was showing and the quality of the ball-striking, and here I stand even happier because the score doesn't do it justice as that is one of the finest rounds I've played this year.
"I'm happy to be under par, never mind six."
Casey revealed he has been struggling with a sore throat.
"I'm not great, but it is what it is. Maybe beware of the sick golfer," the 42-year-old added.
World number nine Xander Schauffele finished on one over, with fellow Americans Matt Kuchar and 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed one shot further back.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)