Gary Murphy opened with a four under par 67 in the Scottish Hydro Challenge. Pictured here at the Iberdrola Open. Credit: www.golffile.ieGary Murphy fired his lowest round for 18 months when he opened with a four under par 67 in the Scottish Hydro Challenge at the Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Resort.

The 38-year old Kilkenny man, who lost his European Tour card at end of last season, last shot 67 in the second round of the 2010 Joburg Open.

But after six successive missed cuts between the European and Challenge Tour this season, he’s well placed to challenge for a top finish in Scotland.

The Baltray resident finished the day in an eight-way tie for fourth place, four strokes adrift of Scotland’s Chris Doak, who fired a brilliant course record 63.

Starting on the back nine, Murphy birdied the par-three 10th and par-five 13th before following bogeys at the 14th and 15th with a sensational back nine.

He birdied the third, fifth, sixth and ninth to storm home in four under 31 and keep Doak in his sights.

The 33-year old Scot said he was inspired by watching the putting technique of Australian Jason Day and solved some recent putting woes by taking a leaf out of Day’s book to lead by two from Swedish rookie Jesper Kennegard and by three from South Africas’ Allan Versfield.

Glasson’s Colm Moriarty is tied for 25th on two under after a 69 with Simon Thornton’s 72 only good enough for a share of 76th.