Challenge Tour — Kevin Phelan is just three shots off the lead in the weather-delayed Hainan Open in China.
And with tbe event now cut to 36 holes he has a chance to grab a maiden win.
The Mount Juliet touring professional had three birdies and two bogeys in a one under 71 at Sanya Luhuitou Golf Club to share 13th place behind England's Sam Walker, Germany's Alexander Knappe and The Netherlands' Rainier Saxton.
They shot 68s to lead by one stroke from Spain's Pep Angles with the field taking until Saturday to complete the first round following torrential rain in Hainan Island.
West Waterford's Gary Hurley is tied 93rd after a six over 78 that featured just one birdie.
After further heavy rain at Sanya Luhuitou on Saturday morning, round one was delayed for four and a half hours and the decision was taken to reduce the European Challenge Tour tournament to 36 holes with no cut.
Saxton was relieved to finish 18 holes in 72 hours, and is looking forward to competing for his first Challenge Tour title tomorrow.
“I am very happy with the way I played today,” he said. “For the first few holes there was no wind and we thought ‘if it stays like this, it will be very good for us’.
“After that the wind caught up a bit and the first nine, I played the second nine first, were quite tough. We still were very lucky today in the conditions.
“I hit a lot of greens out there, I think I hit 17 greens in total then it was on my last hole of the day where I didn’t manage to do that because it is a tough hole – and I made a bogey.
“Overall it was quite good, just really solid with a lot greens and a lot of fairways. I am going to try and keep the momentum going as we are due to play again tonight – I would like to stay out there as long as possible.
“I am not focusing on the change in the competition and the points system, as we just have to go out there to play. We will see what happens because you aren’t even playing with the leaders, but I am looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings.”
Following the decision to restrict the tournament to 36 holes, the prize fund and ranking points for the tournament were reduced to 75% with the original $350,000 purse changing to $262,500.
Form horse Walker, who has finished first and tied second in his last two starts on Europe’s top developmental tour, is level with Saxton after carding six birdies and two bogeys while Challenge Tour Number Nine Knappe made five consecutive birdies on his way to also reaching four under par.
Play will restart in Sanya at 7.10am tomorrow, when some of Europe’s most up and coming golfers will battle it out in one of the final events on the 2016 Road to Oman.
Scores after Round One
68 R Saxton (Ned), A Knappe (Ger), S Walker (Eng),
69 P Angles (Esp),
70 C Ding-Gen (Chn), Z Xinjun (Chn), L Ding-Feng (Chn), A Björk (Swe), H Ze-Yu (Chn), A Karlsson (Swe), M Ovesen (Den), C Sordet (Fra),
71 M Delpodio (Ita), O Stark (Swe), M Tullo (Chi), S Henry (Sco), T Murray (Eng), Y Hao (Chn), M Lampert (Ger), D Perrier (Fra), Kevin Phelan (Irl),
72 J Dantorp (Swe), M Yiyuan (Chn), C Blomstrand (Swe), L Xue-Wen (Chn), M Kinhult (Swe), N Cullen (Aus), M Orrin (Eng), M Pavon (Fra), Z Guo-Wu (Chn), L Gagli (Ita), J Guerrier (Fra), D Stewart (Sco), J Smith (Eng), L Fangyi (Chn), J Lima (Por), R Kellett (Sco),
74 W Besseling (Ned), T Lawrence (RSA), A Saddier (Fra), S Forsström (Swe), J Heath (Eng), Z Jin (Chn), D Gaunt (Aus), D Frittelli (RSA), R Santos (Por),
75 C Hai-Meng (Chn), M Trappel (Aut), D Law (Sco), S Zi-Han (Chn), A Rai (Eng), G King (Eng), L Gui-Ming (Chn), P Howard (Eng), B Ritthammer (Ger), C Ford (Eng), R Fox (Nzl), J Sarasti (Esp), J Van Der Vaart (Ned), J Da-Xing (Chn), Z Hui-Lin (Chn), S Yan (Chn), Y Tian (Chn), M Armitage (Eng), W Yanzhang (Chn),
76 B Stow (Eng), W Hongfu (Chn), D Chen Xiao (Chn), H Ren (Chn), V Riu (Fra), N Ravano (Ita), S Dong (Chn),
77 X Qin (Chn), S Heisele (Ger), Z Linyun (Chn), A Velasco (Esp), L Xin-Yang (Chn), G Zhaoyang (Chn), H Yu-Ting (Chn),
78 L Xiaofei (Chn), C Changping (Chn), Gary Hurley (Irl), X Bowen (Chn), Y Yi-Nong (Chn), X Guo-Zhen (Chn), Y Yongxuan (Chn), L Yuxin (Chn), Z Zhu (Chn)
79 H Wen-Yi (Chn), M Nixon (Eng), L Chengxiang (Chn), W Zi-Ting (Chn), Z Chang-Lei (Chn), T Rongjian (Chn), H Zeming (Chn), Z Jia (Chn), Z Junbin (Chn),
80 C Xiao-Ma (Chn), Y Jian-Feng (Chn), A Pavan (Ita), Z Wei-Yu (Chn), Z Shang (Chn), D Van Driel (Ned), L Jianshan (Chn),
81 W Xu (Chn), X Cheng (Chn), S Yi-Cheng (Chn),
83 W Kunmin (Chn)
84 C Haolong (Chn)
85 W Chang-Wei (Chn)
86 M Cheng-Yao (Chn)
87 Z Xiongyi (Chn), H Wen-Cheng (Chn)