Niall Kearney continued his promising recent form with a two-under 70 in his opening round at the Cazoo Classic to sit in a share of 30th at Hillside Golf Club.
The Royal Dublin man pocketed five birdies and three bogeys in his first round for an encouraging start to the DP World Tour event, which has him trailing leader Paul Waring by seven shots early.
Kearney is riding some good form after a tied-15th finish at the BMW International Open and a solid week at the Horizon Irish Open, and at 159th in the Race to Dubai he could do with a good finish to boost his hopes of retaining his playing rights next season.
Waring was on fire in his opening round with a nine-under 63 in Southport, an eagle, eight birdies and a bogey resulting in an excellent display, signed off in style with a 13-footer on the last for birdie.
“I started nicely, controlled my ball pretty well all day. It’s funny, I’d felt like I’ve been playing nicely over the last few weeks and months, just not having any results so to actually put it all together for a round of golf, I’m absolutely made up,” said the 37-year-old.
The Englishman’s lead is two shots off fellow countryman Garrick Porteous, who recorded a seven-under 65, with France’s Julien Guerrier, England’s Richard Mansell, Sweden’s Jens Dantorp and Scotland’s Grant Forrest a further shot back.
Gavin Moynihan had a roller coaster day as six birdies and five birdies led to a one-under 71 which has him in a share of 41st after the first day alongside Jonathan Caldwell, who mixed three birdies with two bogeys.
Four birdies and four bogeys in a level-par 72 has Cormac Sharvin just inside the cut line in a share of 63rd, which is also where PGA professionals David Higgins and Simon Thornton finished after three birdies and three bogeys each.