Hurley heads green army in Kenya
 Moritz Lampert. Picture © Stafford Ondego

Moritz Lampert. Picture © Stafford Ondego

West Waterford’s Gary Hurley birdied three of his last five holes to lead the six strong Irish challenge in the Barclays Kenya Open.

The 23-year old rookie birdied the first and then bogeyed the third and fourth at Karen Country Club in Nairobi.

But he made amends at the finish, following a birdie two at the 14th with further birdies at the last two holes.

Hurley is tied for 20th, four strokes behind Germany’s Moritz Lampert and South Africa’s Danie Van Tonder, who shot 66s to take charge on the first day of the new European Challenge Tour season.

They are one shot ahead of French duo Clément Berardo and Adrien Saddier as well as Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg.

Gareth Shaw signed for one under 71st to share 34th as The Island’s Gavin Moynihan and Mount Juliet's Kevin Phelan posted level par 72s for a share of 54th.

Ruaidhri McGee and Chris Selfridge struggled to four over 76s but Lampert, who won three times in the 2014 Challenge Tour season to earn instant promotion to the European Tour, is keen for similar success this year.

“It’s good to be back,” said the 23 year old. “Two years ago on Challenge Tour was the best season I have ever had so, though I would like to be on the European Tour, I’ve set my goals for this year and I’m enjoying it so let’s see what we can do.

“I feel really comfortable around here and I played quite a lot of practice – 18 holes on Monday, 9 on Tuesday and then 18 in the Pro-Am – just to get a feeling of how far the ball goes and what it does out of the semi-rough.

“The key today was that I putted well, I got a lot of up-and-downs that were quite important and if I hit more fairways in the next couple of days that will really help because my iron game is really good right now.

“My off season was great. I lost my European Tour card and took four weeks off and regrouped, had a good practice with my coach and my national team, then I played two events in Morocco on the ProGolf Tour and I won the first one, which gave me confidence, and this is a good start.”

Scores after round 1:

66 D Van Tonder (RSA), M Lampert (Ger), 

67 S Soderberg (Swe), C Berardo (Fra), A Saddier (Fra), 

68 J Blaauw (RSA), S Jeppesen (Swe), S Forsstrom (Swe), 

69 M Lundberg (Swe), J Mullen (Eng), G Porteous (Eng), S Walker (Eng), A Velasco (Esp), J Robinson (Eng), D Perrier (Fra), T Remkes (Ned), D Indiza Anyonyi (Ken), R Langasque (am) (Fra), M Wahome (am) (Ken), 

70 G Axell (Swe), B Rusch (Sui), E Van Rooyen (RSA), Gary Hurley (Irl), C Bezuidenhout (RSA), M Palmer (RSA), R Charania (Ken), D Van Driel (Ned), J Dantorp (Swe), N Geyger (Chi), S Fernandez (Esp), O Farr (Wal), C Sordet (Fra), M Bremner (RSA), 

71 P Howard (Eng), P Mejow (Ger), M Pavon (Fra), S Hodgson (Eng), J Sarasti (Esp), D Frittelli (RSA), T Bakker (Fin), A Knappe (Ger), B Ritthammer (Ger), S Hutsby (Eng), B Njoroge (Ken), J Gonnet (Fra), T Murray (Eng), D Odhiambo (Ken), Gareth Shaw (Nir), D Coupland (Eng), R Santos (Por), J Stalter (Fra), D Huizing (Ned), L Gagli (Ita), 

72 C Basson (RSA), V Riu (Fra), D Ulrich (Sui), J Doherty (Sco), J White (Eng), J Girrbach (Sui), R Saxton (Ned), J Barnes (Eng), S Heisele (Ger), D Foos (Ger), J Guerrier (Fra), P Figueiredo (Por), E Johansen (Nor), Kevin Phelan (Irl), H Joannes (Bel), F Bergamaschi (Ita), E Dubois (Fra), N Simwa (Ken), S Ngigi (Ken), R Evans (Eng), D Wakhu (Ken), E Cuartero Blanco (Esp), Gavin Moynihan (Irl), J Garcia Pinto (Esp), M Schneider (Ger), A Tadini (Ita), N Quintarelli (Ita), 

73 J Lara (Esp), C Mivis (Bel), S Griffiths (Eng), B Simwa (Ken), C Ford (Eng), A Karlsson (Swe), J Makitalo (Fin), J Okello (Ken), P Shields (Sco), E Kofstad (Nor), N Ngugi (Ken), 

74 P Relecom (Bel), S Tiley (Eng), G Woolgar (Eng), E Di Nitto (Ita), N Ravano (Ita), P Widegren (Swe), M Orrin (Eng), J Loughrey (Eng), O Bekker (RSA), C Doak (Sco), T Pulkkanen (Fin), D Law (Sco), A Odoh (Ngr), T Omuli (Ken), J Smith (Eng), 

75 J Glennemo (Swe), R West (RSA), A Pavan (Ita), C Mowat (RSA), A Hartø (Den), M Delpodio (Ita), L Nemecz (Aut), R Kind (Ned), W Besseling (Ned), M Keskari (Ger), 

76 M Armitage (Eng), C Gloet (Den), S Connor (Eng), M Muthiya (Zam), S Henry (Sco), J Hakizimana (Rwa), S Einhaus (Ger), Chris Selfridge (Nir), J Senior (Eng), C Wangai (Ken), H Casey (Eng), Ruaidhri McGee (Irl), 

77 J Sjöholm (Swe), M Tullo (Chi), V Seeneevassen (Mus), K Johannessen (Nor), D Wright (Eng), V Byamukama (Uga), J Lando Casanova (Fra), S Brown (Eng), A Rai (Eng), 

78 A Chesters (Eng), A Orende (Ken), C Del Moral (Esp), M Nixon (Eng), R Ainley (Ken), W Harrold (Eng), C Koerbler (Aut), F Matilo (Ken), J Kariuki (am) (Ken), 

79 M Omondi (Ken), J Madoya (Ken), E Ooko Obura (Ken), K Bollo (am) (Ken), 

80 D Opati (Ken), 

81 R Otile (am) (Uga), 

82 G Snow (Ken), J Karichu (am) (Ken), 

83 J Muigai (Ken), 

86 S Muthugia (Ken).