Cork’s John Hickey lies in third place after shooting a one-over 72 in the opening round of the Toro Tour La Canada in Sotogrande, Andalucía, trailing the overall leader by three.
Hickey is best placed to secure back-to-back Irish wins on the Tour after Ronan Mullarney became the first man to win four Toro Tour events with victory in last week’s weather-shortened Toro Tour San Roque.
Three bogeys in succession from the seventh saw Hickey make the turn at +3, but he dropped just one shot thereafter, birdieing three including the par-4 closer to move up the board in tough scoring conditions.
One further back, Robert Brazill is tied for the lead in the amateur category, despite making a triple-bogey seven at the ninth. The Naas man birdied four of the opening nine and added another on the back, but mixed in four bogeys along with the triple and sits alongside Holland’s Tom Van Balen at +2.
Galway’s Rory Gallagher is one behind Brazill as solo third amateur, with James Temple one further adrift in fourth on +4, the same score as Spanish resident Karl McCormack who is tied for ninth overall and lies sixth in the professional category.