Paul McBride leads the Irish charge after the opening round of the Indoor Golf Group Challenge in Sweden, where home favourite Oscar Lengden set the pace on day one.
McBride had a strong finish to thank for moving inside the top-30 at the close of the first day’s play as two birdies in his last three holes turned a solid round into a good one, having mixed three birdies and two bogeys prior to that.
The 26-year-old had started strongly, too, with birdies at the second and fourth, but sandwiched a birdie at the par-five 12th with bogeys at 11 and 13, however he ended his round with a flourish for a three-under 68.
That has him five shots behind Sweden’s own Lengden, whose finish was even more remarkable as he posted seven birdies in his last eight holes – including five-in-a-row to close – for an eight-under 63 that has him one shot clear.
The 30-year-old, who has already won twice on the Challenge Tour, holds a narrow advantage over France’s Clément Sordet and England’s Max Orrin, who both opened with 64s.
The rest of the Irishmen will have work to do to make the weekend, however, with Gavin Moynihan the best placed of them after a one-under 70, but that’s only good enough to have him tied for 71st.
Tom McKibbin opened with three bogeys and two birdies in a one-over 72 that has him alongside amateur phenom Hugh Foley, the North and South of Ireland champion who is making his third Challenge Tour start and signed for four birdies and five bogeys.
It was a tougher first day for Kinsale’s John Murphy, who quadruple-bogeyed his second hole, the 11th, and double-bogeyed his last, the ninth, for a seven-over 78, while Ruaidhri McGee retired after six holes having played them in four-over-par.
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