Walker Cup hopeful Shane Lowry made a strong start to his defence of the European Nations Championship at Sotogrande.

Team scores Individual scores

The reigning North and West of Ireland champion opened with a four under par 68 to lie just a stroke behind leader Carlos Pigem Xammar if Spain in the individual competition.

Shane Lowry (above) started well at SotograndeLowry is tied for second place with Ireland team mate Niall Kearney, England's Luke Goddard and Alexandre Kalenka of France.

England leads the team standings by a stroke from France on 206 with Spain third and Ireland four strokes adrift in fourth place.

Newland's Cian Curley carded a two-over par 74 but with only the three best cards count, a 79 by Rathmore's Alan Dunbar was discarded.

European Nations Championship, Sotogrande
Team (*discarded score)

1 England 206

2 France 207

3 Spain 209

4 Ireland (Shane Lowry 68, Niall Kearney 68, Cian Curley 74, Alan Dunbar 79*)

5 Denmark 213; 6 Holland 217; 7 Norway 218; 8 Scotland 220; 9 Wales 220; 10 Sweden 220; 11 Belgium 220; 12 Austria 222; 13 Germany 225; 14 Portugal 226; 15 Italy 227; 16 Czech Rep. 227; 17 Finland 228; 18 Slovenia 234.

67 Carlos Pigem Xammar (Sp); 68 S Lowry (Ire), N Kearney (Irl), A Kalenka (Fra); 69 JF Sarasti (Sp) , J Lopez Lazaro (Sp), S McEwan (Sco), S Cappelen (Den), S Hutsby (Eng), C Ford (Eng).