STRIKER. Stephen Grant made a solid start to the qualifying school second stage in Spain. Damian Mooney, Stephen Grant and Niall Kearney were the best of the Irish after the first round of the European Tour Qualifying School second stage in Spain.

Ex-Shamrock Rovers soccer star Grant hit a level par 71at El Valle Golf Resort in Murcia to share 19th place, four strokes behind American Matthew Rosenfield.

Mallow’s Mervyn Owens carded a three over 74 to share 41st place but it was an even more disappointing day for European Tour regular Gary Murphy, who fired a four over 75 that left him tied for 51st alongside Warrenpoint’s Barrie Trainor.

Big-hitting Belfast man Mooney is the leading Irish player at Costa Ballena Ocean Club in Jerez where he posted a two under par 70 to share 28th place, four shots behind leaders Julian Ethulain of Argentina and England’s James Ruth.

Former Walker Cup player Kearney from Royal Dublin shot a level par 72 for a share of 44th but it was a disappointing day for Irish PGA champion David Mortimer.

The Galway man shot a three over 75 and Michael Collins a 76 to lie 65th and 69th respectively in the 73-strong field.

Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell was the best of the Irish at Arcos Gardens in Jerez where a one under 71 left him tied for 20th, five shots behind pace setter Romain Wattel of France. Fellow Ulsterman Gareth Shaw hit a two over 74 to lie tied 49th with Mick McGeady tied 64th after a 76.

Niall Turner was the sole Irishman in action at Hacienda del Alamo in Murcia but the Muskerry player’s two over 74 was only good enough for tied 55th after the opening round.