World No 2 Rory McIlroy opened with a 69 to share second place in the Grey Goose Cup in Spain.

The Holwyood ace, 17, is bidding to emulate Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia by winning the individual title at the European Nations Championship at Sotogrande.

McIlroy is tied with Maurius Thorp of Holland and Xavier Freyaerts on three under par - just one stroke behind Dane Peter Baunsoe.

Baltray's Simon Ward is two shots further back in fifth after a 71 while Niall Kearney and Shane Lowry have work to do after rounds of 74 and 76.