Gary Murphy opened with a super 66 for the third year on the trot to lead the rain-hit Mallorca Classic

And with his card safely in the bag this year, he's targeting a top-two finish and a Volvo Masters start next week.

The Kilkenny man, 35, hit four birdies in a bogey-free effort to share the clubhouse lead with Andrew McLardy before play was suspended.

Now he's determined to challenge right to the death after the battle for his card shattered his victory bid last year.

Beaming after another top effort at Pula, Murphy said: "Apart from jumping on the ambulance for the last four holes last year, I have had a bit of success around here.

"I can't put my finger on it, I just play well here. Last year the situation was so delicate and it was a lot more difficult for me to try to win the tournament."

Murphy needed a top 50 finish to keep his card that time as he arrived in Mallorca ranked 118th in the Order of Merit - the last safe spot on the money list.

He finished up leading or joint leading the event for the first three rounds but stumbled over the closing holes to share joint 13th behind winner Niclas Fasth.

This term his card is safe but he needs another €166,354 - second place is worth €222,220 - to make it to Valderrama for the second time in his career next week.

Ranked 85th in the Order of Merit this time, Murphy said: "Funnily enough I need the same finish to get into Valderrama as I did last year - a top two.

"Last year I had lost my chance to win the tournament after three-putting 16 and I just panicked for the last two holes.

"I was physically and mentally drained and that was disappointing. I think, had I been in a similar Order of Merit situation to this year I would have given Niclas Fasth a better run for it.

"This time I am guaranteed a job for another year at least. I have a lot of friends in the same position I was in and it is just horrible.

"It is easy to say you have got to go out and forget about it but it was impossible. I'll just keep plodding away and see where it takes me at the end of the week."

Paul McGinley struggled to a one over par 71 that left him tied for 67th with Damien McGrane and Graeme McDowell.

The Dubliner, 40, is guaranteed a Volvo Masters start as a past winner but won't pick up a penny in official money unless he qualifies on merit by finishing fifth this week.

Peter Lawrie was one under par after three holes when play was suspended while Scot Andrew Coltart, who needs a share of 13th to keep his card, was tied 20th after a 69.