Niall Kearney is four shots off the lead after the opening round of the B-NL Challenge in The Netherlands as a host of Irish players got off to solid starts.
Kearney carded a two-under 69 to lie in a share of 29th place while Sweden’s Anton Karlsson and Frenchman Benjamin Hebert lead on four-under-par.
After a level-par front nine of two birdies and as many bogeys, the Dubliner responded with a clean back nine with birdies on 2 and 5 to cap off a solid opener.
Kearney lost his DP World Tour playing privileges last term and is hunting an immediate return to the top tier.
“That’s everybody’s target out here – just try and get off to a decent start and head towards that top-20,” Kearney said.
“It’s going to be a long year, lots of tournaments so it’s a decent start having not been competitive through the winter. It’s going to be a busy year, probably twenty odd weeks so we’re going to pace ourselves and give it our very best shot.”
Former Alps Tour winner Jonathan Yates had a steady start on his first Challenge Tour outing with a one-under 70 while Conor Purcell and Dermot McElroy lie on level-par after opening 71s.
Paul Dunne and Jonathan Caldwell have work to do to make the cut from one-over while Cormac Sharvin struggled to a three-over 74.
At the top it’s Karlsson and Hebert who will take a one shot advantage over a host of players into round two. Karlsson was first in the clubhouse after a sensational run of six birdies in seven holes on his front nine before he ground out a back nine of 36.
Hebert also had an electrifying start of his own with five birdies in seven including four in a row from the 2nd and he also finished strong with back-to-back birdies.
English duo Alfie Plant, Jamie Rutherford and Germany’s Velten Meyer are tied for third on five-under.
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