Solid starts for Kearney and Caldwell as Rahm roars ominously into the mix

Ronan MacNamara

Niall Kearney (Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Niall Kearney gave his DP World Tour card aspirations a potential shot in the arm with a welcome two-under 69 at the acciona Open de Espana in Madrid. 

Kearney is alongside Jonathan Caldwell in a share of 31st place and six shots off the early pace set by China’s Ashun Wu and championship debutant Kiradech Aphibarnrat. 

Home favourite and two-time winner Jon Rahm looked in ominous form as he sprinted to a seven-under 64 to lie just one back as he bids to emulate Seve Ballesteros and win a hat trick of Spanish Open crowns. 

Royal Dublin’s Kearney recovered from an opening dropped shot to post birdies on the fourth, seventh and tenth holes while Caldwell’s front nine was bookended by bogeys but he played plenty of good golf in between those blemishes with birdies on the 2nd, 4th and 7th to turn in 35. 

Clandeboye’s Caldwell finished in style with a closing birdie to move alongside Kearney. 

Meanwhile, Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan – who both doubled the second hole – are on level-par after rounds of 71 and Cormac Sharvin is alongside David Carey with a mountain to climb to see some weekend golf at three-over and five-over respectively. 

The Open de Espana has an illustrious history with some of Europe’s top names etching their name onto the trophy including 1981, 85 and 1995 champion Seve who Rahm is looking to climb alongside this weekend. 

A bumper crowd is expected to see the world number six in action after he cruised to a share of third place and the Spaniard would love to emulate his hero. 

“It would be incredible. He is obviously the reference in Spain. He made golf where it is in this country. 

“He changed golf worldwide but here especially. So any time you get your chance to put your name on a list that only Seve is on (in the DP World Tour era), it’s really incredible. 

“I’ve been able to do it a couple of times with a few accomplishments but to be able to win this event three times would be incredible. 

“I don’t want to think about it too much but it would be a dream come true, it would be a true honour.” 

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