Slow start for Rice

Limerick's Tim Rice got off to a nightmare start at the Tour de las Americas Q-School in Florida.

The former Ireland international, 30, crashed to a five over par 77 in the first round at Bonaventure Country Club in Florida.

Tied for 24th in the 30-man field, Rice still has time to improve his ranking and qualify for events that will be co-sanctioned by the European Challenge Tour.

PGA Tour star Lucas Glover and Argentina's Andres Romero made their breakthroughs thanks to the Tour de Las Americas.

And after struggling for the first four years of his professional career, Rice needs a decent week to improve his chances of playing more events this season.

The Limerick man got just six starts on the Challenge Tour last year but could get three more over the next few weeks in co-sanctioned events in Argentina and Colombia.

The Challenge Tour cranks up in Nairobi tomorrow after a three-month break with Peter O'Keeffe, Mark O'Sullivan, Justin Kehoe and Mark Campbell in action in the €180,000 Tusker Kenya Open.

Veteran Ulsterman David Jones was the last Irishman to win the title in 1989 - his only European Tour success.

The field also includes Swedish Ryder Cup star Joakim Haeggman, who failed to keep his card at last year's Q-School.

Haeggman, 38, became the first Swede to compete in Ryder Cup at the Belfry in 1993.

Attempting to revive a career which has been affected by injury in recent years, Haeggman equalled the world record of 27 shots for nine holes in the Alfred Dunhill Cup at 1997 St Andrews.