Ruaidhri McGee was the pick of Ireland’s traveling trio on day one of the Andalucia Costa Del Sol Match Play in Spain.
The Rosapenna professional, who grabbed a top-10 finish last week in France, carried that form into a solid opening effort as he carded five birdies on his way to a one-under par 70.
The tall 28-year old’s hard-fought performance sees him sharing 21st overnight, just three shots off the lead after a tough scoring day in Malaga.
John Ross Galbraith was another Irishman who enjoyed a solid opening round despite failing to break par.
It was a rollercoaster ride for the Whitehead professional whose six birdies were cancelled out by three bogeys and two doubles.
Still, sharing 46th is a foundation on which to build heading into tomorrow.
Unfortunately, the ground went from underneath Tramore professional, Robin Dawson’s feet on day one. Four-over to the turn, the 23-year old eventually signed for a plus-five 76 and will need to rally hard tomorrow in order to make the weekend match play cut.
At the top, Marcus Mohr carded his first European Challenge Tour sub-70 round to take a share of the lead at the end of the first day at Valle Romano Golf.
The Englishman signed for a four-under par 67 to hold a share of top spot with countryman Dale Whitnell, Ugo Coussaud, Jordan Zunic and Simon Forsström, with the quintet sitting one shot clear of four players sharing sixth place on three under par.
High winds meant it was a challenging opening round for the entirety of the field and Mohr, who secured Challenge Tour playing privileges through the Alps Tour last year, stayed patient to post his best round since making the step up from the satellite tour.
“This year didn’t start too well as I had to get used to a new arena and a new tour, but I just took my time figuring it out,” he said. “It was important that I remembered what I could do and what I think about when I do it and that’s it.
“I play my best when I am in the moment and today, I was pretty much right in the moment.”
With five birdies and a single blemish, Mohr put together a strong round in tough conditions and admitted that some of his highlights were par saves.
“I hit an eight iron that touched the pin on 13 and that was pretty sweet,” he said.
“I also had a couple of par saves which I had to really dig deep for and I feel like I’m pretty good at digging deep. Everything was great today; I love being in Spain and I had two really nice guys as playing partners.
“Hopefully I can put another good round together tomorrow and get into the weekend. I love match play because I only have to beat one guy at a time.”
Swede Forsström came close to posting the only bogey-free round of Day One but a bogey on the ninth – his final hole – meant he slipped back to four under par and was forced to share the advantage.
The fight will continue tomorrow as the field vie for one of 64 places up for grabs for the match play section of the tournament over the weekend.
Players will be seeded according to their position at the end of the 36 holes of stroke play and should there be a tie for 64th spot, a play-off will take place on the ninth hole until there are exactly 64 players remaining.
Full Scoring HERE