German Kaymer breaks course record with 61 in Portugal

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VILAMOURA, Portugal, Oct 18 (Reuters) Germany's Martin Kaymer broke the Victoria club's course record to take an early three-shot lead on 11-under-par 61 in the Portugal Masters today.

The 22-year-old crammed 11 birdies, five in the last five holes, in his first round to clip two shots off the previous record and cruise three clear of Argentine Daniel Vancsik.

It was the joint best round of the season on the European Tour.

''I shot a 13-under 59 at Hapsburg (in Germany) on the EPD Tour, a satellite tour below the Challenge Tour, last year when I had just turned pro,'' Kaymer told reporters.

''That was the round of my life. That was a very easy course though.'' MAIN CIRCUIT Kaymer, twice a winner on the 2006 Challenge Tour, is in his first season on the main circuit and his exploits have made him favourite for Europe's rookie of the year award.

He shared the lead going into the final round of the Wales Open in June and was also in front playing the last hole of the Scandinavian Masters in Stockholm in August.

''I've been waiting for this round to come,'' said Kaymer. ''It's just my putting has been so-so.

''I'm really confident I have learned a lot from my near-misses, especially Sweden, where I just played a bad shot at the wrong hole.'' Vancsik, winner of the Madeira Islands Open in March, also endured a near-miss at last week's Madrid Open.

He led in Spain for the first three rounds before wrecking his victory chances with a nine at the fifth hole on the last day.

Britain's Lee Westwood, looking for a third win of the season, shared third place on 65 with Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and twice former US Open champion Retief Goosen.

Justin Rose of Britain, trying to move to the top of Europe's money-list this week, showed no ill effects from his recent back injury as he carded a 69.

Reuters BJR RN1904

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