Headfort’s Brian Casey fired eight birdies and an eagle in a seven under 65 to take a two-stroke lead after the opening round of the Alps Tour Q-School in Spain.
The former Mullingar Scratch Trophy winner, 22, picked up four birdies in his last seven holes on the America Course at La Cala Resort to top the leadboard from former England international Jack Senior and Italy’s Cristiano Terragni. Leaderboard
With the top 35 and ties earning full card after 54 holes, former British Amateur champion Alan Dunbar and two-time South of Ireland winner Simon Ward are also inside the magic number
Rathmore star Dunbar birdied his last three holes on the America Course and dropped just one shot in a four under 68 that left him tied for fourth spot.
Monaghan native Ward is tied for 12th after a two under 70 on the Asia Course but the other three Irish in action are all outside the top 65 and ties who will make the 36 hole cut tomorrow.
“I turned pro three months ago,” Casey told the Alps Tour website. “I decided to try to play the Alps Tour because this is the satellite tour where the best players go, I can have the experience of the travel and there is bigger prize money.
“I missed three greens with a wedge, don’t write that, it is not very positive! But I had eight birdies and one eagle on the sixth so in the end, it was a good round.”
The top 65 and ties will make the 36-hole cut at the Final Stage with the leading 35 and ties after 54 holes earning Category 6 Membership on the Alps Tour for 2014.
The players ranked between the 36th and 70th will earn Category 8 membership but Newlands’ Andrew Hogan, Thomas O’Driscoll and Royal Portrush’s Matt McAlpin will all want better.
Hogan birdied the first and bogeyed the third on the Asia Course before a triple bogey seven at the fourth left him fighting an uphill battle.
But he did well to hit back and play his last 14 holes in one under for a 74 that left him tied for 66th on two over.
O’Driscoll is tied 84th after a 75 on the Asia Course where McAlpin had two sevens in a 76 that left him tied 93rd in the 144-field.
At the Ladies European Tour Q-School in Morocco, Carlow’s Tara Delaney bounced back from her second round 86 with a battling, three over 75 on the Al Maaden Course in Marrakech but remained in last place on 23 over par.
With a round to go before the cut to the leading 60 players and those tied, the cut mark was hovering around six-over-par, with those on one-over-par currently tied for 30th place.