Paul Dunne is hoping to get his eye in on the greens and challenge for a maiden win after opening with a solid 68 in the Shenzen International in China.
The Greystones man is tied for fourth on four under par, just two strokes behind clubhouse leaders Alexander Levy of France and South Korean Soomin Lee at Genzon Golf Club.
Levy claimed his maiden European Tour title when the Volvo China Open was held at Genzon in 2014 and after four birdies and an eagle gave him the early lead, he was later joined by Lee, who also carded a bogey-free 66 minutes before play was suspended due to darkness following a 46-minute lightning suspension earlier in the afternoon.
With 11 groups yet to finish, round one will resume at 6:50am, and South African Brandon Stone will have a chance to join the front-runners as he plays the 18th hole just a shot back on five under par. Meanwhile, five players are in the clubhouse on four under, two shots off the pace.
They include rookie Dunne, who was disappointed not to hole more putts even if he did find the grainy greens a challenge.
“Going out I thought 68 would be a pretty good number to shoot,” Dunne told European Tour Radio’s Nick Dye. “On the front nine, which was my back nine, I gave myself a lot of good chances that I missed. That’s a little disappointing. I gave myself a really good chance for on nine. I had a really easy chip for eagle that I knocked about four feet by and missed it for birdie.
"That was a bit disappointing but all in all I hit the ball really well. Drove it great. I am just struggling with the greens because they are quite grainy and I am not used to it. I am struggling to see lines. I did hole a few putts but I missed a few that normally I’d hope to make so it’s a good start but hopefully I can build on it.”
Dunne is 114th in the Race to Dubai having battled his way to a share of 16th in last week’s Spanish Open at Valderrama where he was working on his swing.
“I putted really well last week,” he said. "I didn’t play great but I putted well. The greens were really fast but I liked them. I could see the lines pretty well and when you are reading the putts and you can see them going in, it gives you a lot of confidence.
“This week I haven’t quite got my eye in yet but hopefully, as the week goes on, it will get better and better and I can put some good rolls on them.”
While Michael Hoey struggled, carding a four over 76 that featured three birdies, three bogeys and two double bogeys, Dunne was consistent.
Starting on the back nine, the 23-year old opened with six pars, then followed birdies at the 16th and 17th with a bogey at the 18th.
He then came home in 33 thanks to birdies at the second, third and fifth and while he was annoyed not to chip and putt for birdie at the ninth, he’s well placed.
“My putting feels good,” he added. "When you feel comfortable that you have got the line right when you are over it, it makes it a lot easier to start it where you want. So that’s the issue I have had so far.
"I missed some putts on that front nine that I really shouldn’t be missing. But I did take confidence from last week. I was a little uncomfortable tee to green but I held it together on a really tough course and got a decent finish out of it.”
Alexander Levy (66, -6)
“It's always nice to shoot under par. I have some very good memories here, and it's always nice to play a golf course where you have had your first win.
“I just played great today. I played good last week but had a few bad rounds with the wind, and I feel like my game is in a good way now. Today I played solid, like I did in the last round in Valderrama.
“I know this golf course perfectly. I know how to play well here and that's a help. I have confidence when I approach the ball. I’m just having fun and playing with two good players today helped me to enjoy it so it was a perfect day for me.”
Soomin Lee (66, -6)
“I think this course seems to me to be a bit like Malaysia (where he finished in a share of second place). So that’s good for me - small, narrow greens and heavy rough. I’m just trying to keep it on the fairways and greens and then hopefully hole some putts.
“I’m excited for the rest of the tournament. I feel comfortable, so that's good for me, and I had a good score to start with.”
Joost Luiten (68, -4)
“It was a good score. I didn't really start great on the front nine, only one under, and on the back nine I started to hit some better shots. It's nice to finish with a couple of birdies on 16 and 17.
“It's a different golf course to Valderrama last week. At the end of the day, you just need to hit good shots and that's what I did on the back nine, created more birdie chances, and then you can roll them in.
“On the front nine I was just a bit too far away from the pins and then it's difficult making putts. I’ve got to stay in the same mind set as last week and I’ve done that, so I'm happy.”