Paul McGinley produced stunning back nine to trail leaders Paul Lawrie and Søren Kjeldsen by just three shots after the first round of the Open de Andalucia de Golf in Malaga.
Playing just his second event after four months on the sidelines following a sixth operation on his left knee, the 43-year old Dubliner fired a two under par 68 to share 18th place with Peter Lawrie at Parador de Málaga Golf.
Scot Lawrie and defending champion Kjeldsen are a stroke ahead of seven players - England’s Phillip Archer, Welshman Bradley Dredge, New Zealander Mark Brown, Dutchman Joost Luiten, Spaniard Ignacio Garrido, Argentina’s Daniel Vancsik and France’s former British amateur champion Julien Guerrier.
McGinley birdied the first but then bogeyed the second, sixth and seventh to turn in two over 36 before scorching home in four under 32.
Birdies at the 10th, 11th and 12th put him in red figures and while he dropped a shot at the par three 13th, he birdied the par-five 14th and the 449-yard 18th for a bright start to the event.
Gary Murphy, Michael Hoey and Simon Thornton signed for one under par 69s to share 38th place with Darren Clarke and Gareth Maybin a shot further back in tied 56th after a level par 70.
Shane Lowry was two under with five to play but bogeyed the 14th and ran up a triple bogey seven at the 16th to post a disappointing two over 72.
Damien McGrane continued his slow start to the season with a three over par 73 that leaves him needing a red-hot second round to make the cut.
Needing just €20,000 to break the €3m barrier in career earnings, McGrane has made just three cuts from his first six starts.
Two under for the day through eight holes, he made a triple bogey seven at the 18th - his ninth - and followed that with three bogeys and just one birdie on his back nine.