Ruaidhri McGee and Stephen Grant led the way as just six of Ireland’s 12-strong contingent matched or broke par in the opening round of the European Tour Qualifying School Second Stage in Spain.
With around 18 places in next week’s final stage up for grabs at each of the four venues, only four of those six are in position with three of them producing the goods at La Colinas Golf and Country Club in Alicante.
McGee had five birdies and just one bogey in a four under 67 to match former professional footballer Grant, who made four birdies in his first six holes and added 12 solid pars to leave them tied for eighth, three shots behind leaders Brandon Stone of South Africa, Englishman James Heath and Guillaume Cambis of France.
Brendan McCarroll had six birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey seven in a two under 69 at the same venue to share 18th spot as Dubliner Niall Kearney ended the day in joint 28th after a one under 70.
A three 74 for Damian Mooney leaves the Belfast man with a lot of work to do while The Island’s David Rawluk is also in trouble after a 75 left him near the back of the field.
Waterford Castle’s Kevin Phelan shot a one under 71 at El Saler to share 16th place behind Pelle Edberg (66) but Alan Dunbar and Com Moriarty had 73s to lie joint 37th while Kerry’s JD Guiney had a nightmare 82 to leave his hopes in tatters.
Leader Edberg was knocked out of the top 45 which qualified for this week’s Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club in the penultimate event of the season in Oman last week, therefore losing out on exemption for next week’s six-round Final Stage at PGA Catalunya Resort.
But he put that late disappointment behind him as he carded a six under par 66 in Valencia to take a one-shot lead over Italy’s Niccolo Quintarelli.
Chris Hanson of England and Austrian Lukas Nemecz share the lead at Lumine Golf and Beach Club after seven under par 64s with Ballymena amateur Dermot McElroy left to rue three dropped shots in his last four holes as he posted a level par 71.
The Irish international was three under par after birdies at the 10th, 11th and fourth - he started on the back nine - but he then double bogeyed the sixth and bogeyed the ninth to end the day tied for 41st on level par.
At Valle Romano near Estepona in Malaga, Galgorm Castle touring professional Gareth Shaw trails leader Pontus Widegren (64) of Sweden by nine strokes after a two over 73.
The Lugan native birdied the first and fourth but while he followed a double bogey six at the fifth with a birdie four at the eighth, three bogeys in four holes on the back nine relegated him to joint 60th after the opening day.
The objective is to make it to the final stage of the European Tour Qualifying School, which begins at PGA Catalunya Resort near Girona, on November 10.
T1 64 G Cambis (Fra), J Heath (Eng), B Stone (RSA) ,
T4 66 L Astl (Aut), D Lokke (Den), P Relecom (Bel), S Allan (Aus),
T8 67 J Ruth (Eng), J Knutzon (USA), F Eriksson (Swe), Ruaidhri McGee (Irl), Stephen Grant (Irl), L Bond (Wal) ,
T14 68 V Blazquez (Esp), A Wrigley (Eng), J Kaske (Fin), M Jensen (USA) ,
T18 69 K Borsheim (Nor), G Wright (Wal), J Robinson (Eng), J Hahn (USA), J Kennegard (Swe), Brendan McCarroll (Irl), M Richardson (Eng), D Kemmer (USA), G Cunningham (am) (USA), G Porteous (am) (Eng),
T28 70 Niall Kearney (Irl), J Kelly (USA), N Ravano (Ita), D Ulrich (Sui), T Sherreard (Eng), P Williamson (USA), M Clemens (Mex),
T35 71 A Kirstein (Ger), P Maddy (Eng), O Floren (Swe), A Bolognesi (Ita), C Griffiths (Eng), P Erofejeff (Fin), M Van Dijk (Ned), W Homan Jnr (USA),
T43 72 R Coles (Eng), S Hodgson (Eng), R Prophet (Eng), H Leon (Chi), J Sloan (Eng), J Camargo (Esp), N Henriques (Por), M Jedrzeyczyk (Pol), A Garcia-Heredia (Esp), H Joannes (Bel), F Laporta (Ita), G Axell (Swe),
T55 73 D Balin (USA), S Robertshawe (Eng), F Bergamaschi (Ita), K Samooja (Fin), J Webber (Eng), S McNamara (USA), M Sell (Eng), M Glauert (Ger), M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra),
T64 74 M Rominger (Sui), B Chapellan (Fra), R Busher (am) (Eng), S Jeppesen (Swe), G Schultes (Ger), J Banbury (Eng), D Booth (Eng), Damian Mooney (Nir), C Dammert (am) (Ger),
T73 75 J Rask (Swe), David Rawluk (Irl), N Bruzelius (Swe),
76th 76 M Jager (Aus),
77th 80 R Goger (am) (Aut).
1 66 P Edberg (Swe),
2 67 N Quintarelli (Ita),
T3 68 T Linard (Fra), F De Vries (Ned), J Ahlers (RSA),
T6 69 R Wallis (Eng), C Lloyd (Eng), L Lee (Bra), A Saddier (Fra), C Ortiz (Mex),
T11 70 C Del Moral (Esp), V Phillips (Eng), N Fenwick (Sco), W Harrold (Eng), A Bruschi (Ita),
T16 71 T Pieters (Bel), J Lando Casanova (Fra), J Barnes (Eng), S Heisele (Ger), J Westwood (Eng), S Crichton (am) (Sco), R Evans (am) (Eng), Kevin Phelan (Irl), A Pavlov (Rus), P Reed (Eng), L Canter (Eng), R McEvoy (Eng),
T28 72 E Cole (USA), M Pastor (Esp), P Couvert (Fra), A Snobeck (Fra), C Brazillier (Fra), W Roebuck (Eng), A Belt (Eng), B Hopfinger (USA), J Moul (Eng),
T37 73 M Lampert (Ger), Alan Dunbar (Nir), A Velasco (Esp), Y Benson (Can), M Grönberg (Swe), G Murray (Sco), Colm Moriarty (Irl), R Han (Chn), J Abbott (Eng), F Jahn (Ger), L Saltman (Sco),
T48 74 Z Blair (am) (USA), K Thompson (USA), D Callaway (Eng), P Francis (USA), J Howarth (Eng),
T53 75 F Fritsch (Ger), L Claverie (Esp), M Veijalainen (Fin), J Winther (Den),
T57 76 P Oriol (Esp), N Bjorling (Swe), F Adarraga (Esp), N Johansson (Swe), P Ferrier (Sco), W Booth (Sco),
T63 77 A Jacobsson (Swe), F Praegant (Aut),
T65 78 D Wuensche (Ger), C Rodiles (Esp), C Batut (Fra), S Campbell (Eng),
69th 79 G Boyd (Eng),
70th 80 K Crossland (Eng),
T71 81 A Rai (Eng), D Lloyd (RSA),
T73 82 K Ichihara (Jpn), JD Guiney (Irl),
75th 83 J Chamberlain (Eng),
T76 84 J Legarrea (Esp), F Figueroa (Esa).
T1 64 L Nemecz (Aut), C Hanson (Eng),
3rd 65 J McLister (USA),
T4 66 P Sjöland (Swe), T Murray (Eng), S Hutsby (Eng),
T6 67 R Russell (Sco), J Frazer (Wal), D Gavins (Eng), T Cruz (Por), J Hepworth (Eng), S Archibald (Eng), Z Scotland (Eng),
T7 68 A Cooley (Eng), S Fallon (Eng), H Porteous (RSA), J Glennemo (Swe), C Shinkwin (am) (Eng),
T19 69 K Benz (Sui), M Haastrup (Den), D Antonelli (Fra), J Doherty (Sco), D Brooks (Eng), C Dennis (USA), J Timmis (Eng), S Dartnall (Aus),
T27 70 J Mommo (Fin), J Dransfield (Eng), K Eriksson (Swe), B Evans (Eng), L Goddard (Eng), E Johansen (Nor), B Hafthorsson (Isl), R Brown (Eng), M Southgate (Eng), D Law (Sco), A Marshall (Eng) , R Kind (Ned) , T Lee (USA) , C Bouniol (Fra),
T41 71 G Houston (Wal), D Griffiths (Eng), M Hoffman (Can), G Woolgar (Eng), A McLardy (RSA), O Stark (Swe), A Zemmer (Ita), J Rutherford (Eng), J Palmer (Eng), S Schwind (am) (Ger), Dermot McElroy (am (Nir),
T52 72 X Guzman (Esp), A Hansen (Den), P Doherty (Sco), L De Jager (RSA), D Geminiani (Ita), M Soegaard (am) (Den) ,
T58 73 A Cheese (Eng), T Petersson (Swe), G O’Mahony (USA), D Palm (Swe), S Anderson (USA), T Smith (USA), O Farr (Wal), Å Nilsson (Swe), J Sandelin (Swe), H Bacher (Aut), S Matton (Eng), N Kimsey (am) (Eng) ,
T70 74 P Eriksson (Swe), E Saltman (Sco), S Forgan (Eng), J Billing (Swe), J Senior (Eng) ,
T75 75 B Etchart (Esp), A Smith (Eng) ,
T77 76 M Wallace (Eng), J Girrbach (am) (Sui).
1 64 P Widegren (Swe),
T2 65 A Björk (Swe), N Nissen (Den),
T4 66 D Perrier (Fra), A Johnston (Eng),
T6 67 R Pettersson (Swe), G Stal (Fra), L Bedford (USA), J Watts (Eng), C Lange (Den), D Skinns (Eng), E Espana (Fra), O Zetterwall (Swe), W Strickler (USA), S Einhaus (Ger),
T15 68 R Steiner (Aut), R Hjelm (Den), C Hinton (Eng), A Maestroni (Ita), A Bernadet (Fra), M Bremner (RSA), T Whitehouse (Eng), M Orrin (Eng), F Delamontagne (Fra), T Bertoni (USA),
T25 69 S Arnold (Aus), D Berger (USA), H Leon (Chi), P Fendt (Aut), P McKechnie (Sco), P Mejow (Ger), A Tadini (Ita),
T32 70 S Garcia Rodriguez (Esp), J Wilkinson (Eng), R Cazaubon (Mex), M Schneider (Ger), S Little (Eng), C Russo (Fra), M Laskey (Wal), C Arendell (USA), C Berardo (Fra), J Fly (USA), D Markle (Can) , L Jensen (Den) , J Gallegos (am) (Esp)
T45 71 J Gonnet (Fra), B Fowles (Eng), D Coupland (Eng), R Kind (Ned), G Main (USA), A Rota (Ita) ,
T51 72 M Salminen (Fin), R Harris (Eng), C Aronsen (Nor), T Pulkkanen (Fin), C Macaulay (Sco), L Cornford (Eng), O Lieser (Cze), G Canizares (Esp), A Romano (Ita) ,
T60 73 B Hebert (Fra), S Finley Ewing Iv (USA), A Vongvanij (Tha), R Neil-Jones (Eng), G Piris Mateu (Esp), Gareth Shaw (Nir), C Corbin (am) (Eng) ,
T67 74 B Newman (USA), S Brown (Eng), D Hupfer (Can), B Gielow (USA) ,
T71 75 C Mivis (Bel), M Trappel (Aut), I Gregory (Eng) ,
T74 76 M Daley (Eng), D Wood (Eng), J Lomas (Eng) ,
77th 77 W Harmston (Eng) ,
T78 78 J Garcia Del Moral (Esp), H Hilford Brander (Swe), S Wiedergrün (Ger).