Ronan Mullarney’s preparations for his maiden European Challenge Tour season continue apace as the Galway man fired a one-under 71 in difficult scoring conditions at San Roque’s New Course in Southern Spain.
French amateur Maxence Giboudot was the only player in the field to shoot -2 on the opening day, and Mullarney sat tied for second alongside an additional trio.
Mullarney, who won last year’s Alps Tour Order of Merit, finished strongly in the final round of last week’s Toro Tour Atalaya event – his first start of the year – and looked to be continuing where he’d left off as he made the turn at -3 thanks to a second-hole eagle and a birdie at the fifth, but a triple-bogey on the 10th and a single bogey on the 12th kept him from pulling away from the field.
He’d birdie two of the final four to get back into red figures ahead of the second round of the 54-hole event.
Cork’s John Hickey was next best of the Irish at +1, while Robert Brazil is the highest placed of the five Irish Amateurs in the field. Brazil, at +5, is two ahead of James Temple with Evan Monaghan one further adrift.