Galgorm Castle professional Gareth Shaw was delighted to finish with six birdies in his last 10 holes to lie just a shot off the lead in the weather-delayed Montecchia Golf Open in Italy.
Back on the Challenge Tour after topping the Alps Tour money list last term, the Lurgan native fired a six under 65 to share second place behind red-hot Frenchman Charles-Edouard Russo.
“I played the last ten holes in six under par, so I got on a good run and it was nice to finish just before the storm hit,” Shaw said. “It’s the first round in the 60s for me this year so I’m very happy.”
Shaw shares second spot with Danes Lucas Bjerregaard and Mark Haastrup, while Newcastle resident Simon Thornton was also six under with three holes to play when play was suspended.
Rathmore’s Alan Dunbar was tied for 41st after a two under 69.
Russo said he took inspiration from his best friend François Calmels’ victory last week to shoot a seven under par 64 before thunderstorms interrupted play.
All but five of the afternoon groups will have to return on Friday morning to complete round one, but Frenchman Russo was safely in the clubhouse with a one-shot lead after carding eight birdies and one bogey earlier in the day at Golf Club della Montecchia near Venice.
Russo, playing on a sponsor’s invitation in the €160,000 event, said: “François is like a brother to me and it was fantastic to see him win the Challenge de Madrid last week. We’ve been friends since we were in the same class at school as ten year olds and now we live very close to each other.
“It has inspired me, although I’ve been playing very well for the last month and a half now. I came third in the French National PGA Championship, which helped me get an invite here.
“Hopefully I can continue to be motivated by what François did and carry on playing like this.”
At the Arturo Calle Colombian Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Waterville’s Mark Murphy has work to do to make the cut after opening with a four over 75 at Club Campestre de Pereira, some six hours west of Bogotá. Leaderboard
“Another rough day, hitting it great and cannot seem to heat up with the putter, need some work to make the weekend,” Murphy tweeted.