Noel Fox might have dropped a few shots coming home but he will be happy to have made a sub-par start to the Scottish Hydro Challenge.

Fox focusThe event is taking place at the Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club, 45 minutes from Inverness. But it is safe to assume that the 35 year old Dubliner would walk to Timbuktu for a positive result.

An opening, one under par 70 was certainly a step in the right direction for the former Walker Cup player.

Lying 186th in the Challenge Tour rankings is not where the Dubliner wanted to be entering the home stretch of his maiden season on the second tier tour. A win this weekend would put him inside the top 20 in the rankings who will earn promotion to the European Tour next season.

But Fox would probably settle for a top-10 right now, guaranteeing him a precious start in next weeks’ SK Golf Challenge in Finland.

As things stand, his ranking is so poor that he will have to sit out the next two weeks with the Trophée du Golf de Genève in a forthnight’s time limited to the top 32 money winners.

End of season events such as the €450,000 Kazakhstan Open are also out of reach for him right now, which is why he will be keen to avoid the errors that crept in on the back nine in his opening round.

Birdies at the first, second, fifth, ninth and 10th and a lone bogey at the eighth left him on four under par.

But he bogeyed the 12th, 16th and 18th for a 70 that still left him tied for 13th, three strokes behind leaders Robert Coles, Julen Guerrier and Andrew McArthur.

Michael McGeady, Peter O’Keeffe and Simon Thornton all shot one over par 72s that left them tied for 37th place.

Qualifying School graduate Jonnie Caldwell, who has decided to concentrate on retaining his card through the Challenge Tour rankings, finished the day just inside the cut mark after a 73.

Colm Moriarty, Ireland leading player at 44th in the rankings thanks to his eighth place finish in Wales last week, shot a four over 75 with Lurgan’s Gareth Shaw a shot further back after a 76.