Cormac Sharvin birdied his closing two holes to rescue a round that threatened to get away from him on a difficult opening day for the Challenge Tour field at the Grand Final in Mallorca.
The Ardglass professional wasn’t alone in finding the testing track at Alcanada tricky, dropping four shots to the turn in an outward half of 40. However, like he has done so often this season, the 27-year old refused to give in, reeling off seven straight pars before picking up birdies at his closing two holes.
Sharvin signed for a 73 and at two-over par, that’s currently good enough for a share of 15th, a result that would see him drop to 12th on the Road to Mallorca standings.
Although he’s safe inside the top-15 and guaranteed a European Tour card, the higher a graduate finishes on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, the higher they will be ranked next season, which could be the difference between playing in some of the European Tour’s bigger events.
In pole position right now is Francesco Laporta who began the Grand Final occupying the second position on the Road to Mallorca Rankings but is now projected to become Challenge Tour Number One after taking the first-round lead.
The Italian carded five birdies against only two bogeys to sign for a three under par 68, which was one shot better than his nearest competitors on the difficult Club de Golf Alcanada layout.
The strong start continues an impressive run of form for the 29-year-old, who recently finished as the low-Italian at the European Tour’s Italian Open, a Rolex Series event, before winning the Hainan Open the following week.
Laporta holds a one stroke advantage over home-favourite Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez and Welshman Rhys Enoch, who each carded rounds of two under par 70.
“It was a tough round today,” said Laporta. “The wind came up this morning, then went down and then it came up again during the last couple of holes. I played solid and only missed a couple of putts on the first two holes, but after that the putter worked better.
“I’m pretty happy about my round and we’ll just have to see what happens in the next few days.
“The Number One spot is in my mind, for sure. I came here to fight for the first spot and I will fight all week for that. It’s a good start and hopefully I have another one tomorrow.”
Now that the Challenge Tour Grand Final is under way, the projected Road to Mallorca Rankings come into focus, with the leading 15 players on the season-long points race earning European Tour cards at the end of the week.
While Garcia Rodriguez began the tournament positioned 13th on the Rankings, Enoch teed it up outside of the coveted cut off in 25th, but currently sitting in a two-way tie for second place, he is now projected to climb inside the magic number and finish the year in 13th.
Oliver Farr, who came into the Grand Final holding the 15th and final European Tour card, overcame a triple bogey and a double bogey to finish his round in a tie for 11th place on one over par, which is currently enough for the Welshman to hold onto the final graduation spot.
The second round of the Challenge Tour Grand Final begins tomorrow at 8:30am local time, with Laporta, Garcia Rodriguez and Enoch set to go at 11:05am.
Full scoring HERE