The final stage of the European Tour Qualifying School will finish next Friday at the earliest after frost wreaked havoc on the opening day’s play in Spain with Ulster-based Simon Thornton provisionally tied for the lead.

Just 24 players in the 156-man field managed to complete their first rounds as freezing temperatures delayed play until midday at PGA de Catalunya near Girona.

The finishers were all playing the Stadium Course but while a handful of groups managed to tee off on the shorter Tour Course, the greens failed to thaw out and officials suspended play on that side of the 36-hole complex shortly after 1.30 pm.

The top 30 and ties after six rounds will earn tour cards and barring further delays, the event is now scheduled to run into a seventh day.

Belfast’s Damian Mooney must wait until today to begin his bid for a card on the Tour Course as the other three Irish contenders made mixed starts on the tougher Stadium Course.

The good news is that former Royal County Down assistant Thornton birdied the sixth, seventh and eighth as he raced to three under par through 12 holes before the end of play, leaving him tied for the lead with Australia’s Rick Kulacz, who fired a three under 69 to take the early clubhouse lead.

Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney bogeyed his first two holes - the 10th and par-three 11th before an eagle the par-five 12th got him back to level.

The 22 year old former Walker Cup player birdied the 15th to get into red figures but bogeyed the 16th and the tough 18th to slip to one over before adding three straight pars on the front nine when play was called.

Glasson’s Colm Moriarty, who is making his fifth appearance at the final stage, started on the back nine and made the turn in two over par.