Ronan Mullarney opened with a two-under par round of 70 to make the ideal start to his European Tour Q-School campaign at Bom Sucesso.
The Galway amateur, who won the AIG Irish Close Championship at Ballybunion this summer, posted four birdies and two bogeys in a minus-two effort that puts him in a share of second, three back of Spaniard, Manuel Elvira’s lead.
It’s the 24-year old’s first trip to qualifying school and although his teeing-up this week would suggest he will turn professional, Mullarney previously revealed to Irish Golfer Magazine that given the winter pro schedule, that’s not necessarily the case despite him chasing a solid qualifying campaign.
“I would’ve done it last year but I was still in college,” Mullarney said. “I was fairly sure I was always going to go at some stage. That’s not to say I’m 100% going to turn pro but I definitely wanted to give it a go. Of all formats, it should suit my game; consistency hopefully over 10 – 16 rounds. If you can produce consistent golf you should be there, thereabouts but I’m going to go as an amateur.
“The way I’m thinking on it, like obviously I hope it goes well but if it doesn’t, there’s very little professional golf from mid-October to April/May so I don’t really see the point in turning professional unless you’re a Walker Cup player. Hopefully I’ll get the chance with the GUI to play more amateur events. The standard in them is so high that you’re only increasing your chances of getting sponsorship the better you do.”
Joining Mullarney in Italy this week is West Cliff’s Brendan McCarroll who managed to make a solid start to his bid for Stage Two progression.
McCarroll finds himself in a share of 25th spot at two-over par after carding three bogeys and one birdie, but with the top-20 likely to advance to Stage Two, the 33-year old will know more is needed over the next three days if he’s to keep his European Tour dream alive.
Meanwhile in France, Killiney amateur Eoin Leonard finds himself just outside the top-60 after a three-over par opening.
The 22-year old leads the Irish challenge at Golf d’Hardelot after signing for five bogeys and two birdies in a 74.
Stephen Grant finds himself right up against it after a tough opening day 80.
Full Scoring Italy HERE
Full Scoring France HERE
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