Irish trio Cormac Sharvin, Kevin Phelan and Ruaidhri McGee finished the opening day in the red at the Swiss Challenge in Lucerne
Ardglass rookie Sharvin was the best of the bunch in just his eighth start as a professional, carding four birdies in a three under 68 that leaves him tied for fifth, two behind Italy’s Andrea Pavan.
Mount Juliet touring professional Phelan had four birdies in a 69 to share 16th as McGee shot a 70 to end his day tied for 26th.
While it was a tough day for Gareth Shaw, who posted a 75 in his fourth Challenge Tour start since last year’s Volopa Irish Challenge, Pavan shot a five under par 66 to claim the top spot.
The 2013 Challenge Tour No 1 showed the kind of form which has made him a four-time winner on Europe’s top developmental tour, carding seven birdies on day one at Golf Sempachersee.
The 27 year old, who finished second behind England’s Tommy Fleetwood in the 2011 Challenge Tour Rankings, is one shot clear of the rest of the field after dropping just two shots during his opening 18 holes.
After two top ten finishes already this season, the experienced Italian is confident he can improve on his strong start in the Swiss mountains.
“I had a good start after I birdied the first and then went on to play really well,” said Pavan, who led after two rounds in the Czech Republic last week.
“I kept hitting it close and managed to keep it going all the way round. I made only one silly mistake on 15 where I hit a nine iron from the rough and just pulled it a touch and went on to miss the green – but it was the only green I missed. Then I went on to make birdie on the next hole.
“Overall I played very solid. My irons were good and I managed to hit it pin high so I was very happy.
“Last week I had a good start and then faded away. I had two good rounds and in order to do well you need to get three good rounds with maybe one round were it is just okay – so there is a long way to go.
“The course is not as easy as it was last week but if you play well here you can go very low because it is not that long and you can hit a lot of wedge shots. But at the same time the greens are tricky, there is a lot of rough and I think it not easy.
“It is going to be interesting as there is so much to play for and of course I am happy with the start I had so I will look forward to trying to keep it going.”
One shot adrift of Pavan is Damien Perrier who carried on his hot streak after winning his maiden Challenge Tour title in the Czech Republic last week.
The Frenchman, who is currently eighth in the Road to Oman Rankings, birdied his last two holes to sit tied for second place with Spain’s Pep Angles – who came back from a double bogey at the first to reach four under par.
Two shots adrift of Pavan is Espen Kofstad, whose eagle two on 18 helped the Norwegian reach three under par – where he is joined by ten others.
Scores after round 1
66 A Pavan (Ita)
67 A Knappe (Ger), D Perrier (Fra), P Angles (Esp),
68 S Heisele (Ger), M Pavon (Fra), G Drakeford (Aus), B Ritthammer (Ger), T Gornik (Slo), A Maestroni (Ita), P Howard (Eng), E Kofstad (Nor), T Murray (Eng), O Stark (Sie), Cormac Sharvin (Nir),
69 E Johansen (Nor), M Trappel (Aut), Kevin Phelan (Irl), R Enoch (Wal), J Stalter (Fra), L Weber (Fra), C Bouniol (Fra), P Mejow (Ger), W Besseling (Ned), H Joannes (Bel),
70 M Lafeber (Ned), S Fallon (Eng), Ruaidhri McGee (Irl), M Bremner (RSA), M Nixon (Eng), A Harte (Den), L Galliano (Sui), S Fernandez (Esp), C Del Moral (Esp), C Mivis (Bel), B Rusch (Sui), I Cantero Gutierrez (am) (Esp), M Iten (am) (Sui),
71 W Harrold (Eng), P Whiteford (Sco), J Girrbach (Sui), R Langasque (Fra), D Stewart (Sco), T Pulkkanen (Fin), A Saddier (Fra), J Van Der Vaart (Ned), D Wuensche (Ger), D Coupland (Eng), J Garcia Pinto (Esp), R Kind (Ned), D Law (Sco), L Gagli (Ita), J Guerrier (Fra), N Geiger (Chi),
72 K Johannessen (Nor), H Yamac (Tur), C Doak (Sco), J Smith (Eng), D Van Driel (Ned), R Benatti (Ita), C Feldborg Nielsen (Sie), E Cuartero Blanco (Esp), J Lara (Esp), M Søgaard (Den), M, Lampert (Ger), P Vejgaard (Den), R Saxton (Ned), S Connor (Eng), J Wrisdale (Eng), D Ulrich (Sui), S Tiley (Eng),
73 S Brown (Eng), S Formstrom (Swe), D Lloyd (RSA), Z Felder (Sui), B Robinson (Eng), M Schneider (Ger), N Quintarelli (Ita), K Hesbois (Bel), F Calmels (Fra), D Jennevret (Swe), D Bransdon (Aus), G Baumann (Sui), J Lando Casanova (Fra), V Riu (Fra), A Tadini (Ita), D Vancsik (Arg), J Loughrey (Eng), J Heath (Eng), M Crespi (Ita), M Wiegele (Aut), J Barnes (Eng),
74 E Blom (Sie), T Remkes (Ned), J Burnier (Sui), G King (Eng), J White (Eng), R De Sousa (Sui), S Hodgson (Eng), B Paolini (USA), A Rai (Eng), M Tullo (Chi), M Delpodio (Ita), D Huizing (Ned), B Parker (Eng), D Foos (Ger), J Clément (Sui), A Velasco (Esp), A Chesters (Eng), M Galiano Aguilar (am) (Esp), M Eigenberger (am) (Sui), N Woernhard (am) (Sui),
75 D Wright (Eng), P Shields (Sao), G Watremez (Bel), G Shaw (Nir), M Rominger (Sui), A Gabella (Sui), P Maddy (Eng), J Mullen (Eng), S Einhaus (Ger), S Kim (USA), J Shim (am) (Tur),
76 J Doherty (Sco), A Korinek (Cze), P Oriol (Esp), M Ortolani (Ita), C Russo (Fra), R Roussel (Fra), R Kellett (Sco),
77 P Valasek (Svk), A Bernadette (Fra), S Cairns (Ger), A Perrino (Ita), M Keskari (Ger), F Svanberg (Sui), P Dedek (Cze), M Röhrig (Ger), T Tree (Eng), T Bakker (Fin), J Friesz (Svk),
78 J Sarasti (Esp), S Wolters (Ger),
79 P Figueiredo (Por),
80 S Garcia Rodriguez (Esp), L Motta (Ita), C Costilla (Arg), D Burmeister (RSA),
81 J Glennemo (Swe), J Carlota (Por), D Suchan (Cze), F Bergamaschi (Ita),
82 P Relecom (Bel),
83 A Gerini (Sui),
84 A Hortal (Esp),
87 E Kemaloglu (Tur).