Challenge Tour — Gavin Moynihan made the perfect start in his season-ending bid to win a European Tour card when he fired an immaculate five-under 67 to finish the day one stroke behind leader Steve Brown in the Hainan Open in China.
The Dubliner, 23, shares second place with Rory Hie, Erik Van Rooyen, Max Orrin, Matthew Baldwin and Grant Forrest at Sanya Luhuitou Golf Club as he battles to make the top 15 on the money list who will earn European Tour cards following next month's season-ending NBO Golf Classic Grand Final in Oman
Ranked 30th in the Road to Oman standings, he's €15,829 points behind 15th ranked Tom Murray in the race for the €47,539 top prize.
Moynihan birdied the second, third, seventh, ninth and 10th to race to five-under par before parring his way home.
The Hainan Open is the first of four season-ending events on the CHallenge Tour for Moynihan, who has made the cut in 12 of his 14 starts on the second tier tour this season, which is a vast improvement on 2016, when he made just three of nine.
Leader Brown made six birdies in a bogey-free 66 on his debut at Sanya Luhuitou Golf Club on Hainan Island.
The 30-year-old, who currently sits in seventh place in the Road to Oman Rankings, is firmly in contention for a European Tour card.
Having finished in the top ten in his last three starts Brown is happy with his game – and believes he can carry on his impressive scoring over the next three days.
“I have had a really good season and I want to have a strong finish,” he said. “I had a two-week break before this week so it was really pleasing today to carry on where I left off.
“It is a really nice golf course and today we had good weather so the course was playing well – it was amazing how dry it was after all the rain we had earlier in the week.
The most impressive performance of the day arguably came from Chinese amateur Li Linqiang who is three shots back after a 69 – despite only being 13 years old.
Born and raised in Haikou on Hainan Island, the home favourite was granted a wildcard into this week’s tournament after he won the Hainan Junior Tour Final by finishing 18 under par in the three-round event.
“I really worked hard today,” he said. “Golf is my passion and my one true calling in life. I have played on the China Tour three times before but this week definitely feels like a higher stage.
“I felt quite nervous at the beginning, but as the round went on I started to feel comfortable and played my game.
“It is very exciting being so high up the leaderboard but I am confident that I can do even better tomorrow – I am going to try and step on the gas!”
Scores after round one:
66 S Brown (Eng),
67 R Hie (Ina), M Orrin (Eng), G Moynihan (Irl), E Van Rooyen (RSA), M Baldwin (Eng), G Forrest (Sco),
68 C Braeunig (Ger), F Laporta (Ita), B Macpherson (Aus), T Pulkkanen (Fin),
69 J Da-Xing (Chn), Z Hui-Lin (Chn), O Zheng (Chn), N Cullen (Aus), M Kinhult (Swe), M Madsen (Den), B Virto (Esp), C Sordet (Fra), R Ree (USA), M Antcliff (Aus), M Schwab (Aut), H Wen-Yi (Chn), L Linqiang (Chn),
70 M Skelton (Eng), R Evans (Eng), O Lindell (Fin), J Girrbach (Sui), D Foos (Ger), M Fenasse (Fra), R Saxton (Ned),
71 O Stark (Swe), S Fernandez (Esp), J Dantorp (Swe), G Porteous (Eng), C Zi-Hao (Chn), C Mivis (Bel), J Hansen (Den), B Hafthorsson (Isl), L Yuxin (Chn),
72 A Saddier (Fra), M Tullo (Chi), V Perez (Fra), L Gagli (Ita), B Evans (Eng), T Linard (Fra), R McEvoy (Eng), C Tarren (Eng), D Huizing (Ned), S Hak (Hkg), J Heath (Eng), G Charoenkul (Tha), C Yi (Chn), J Senior (Eng), S Heisele (Ger), C Hai-Meng (Chn), S Forsström (Swe), Z Wei-Yu (Chn), R Kellett (Sco), M Perry (Nzl), J Arnoy (Nor), W Xiaoli (Chn),
73 E Goya (Arg), L Chun (Chn), T Rongjian (Chn), D Lee (Kor), W Hongfu (Chn), S Zi-Han (Chn), J Doherty (Sco), C Blomstrand (Swe), Z Shang (Chn), O Lengden (Swe), S Jung (Can), O Farr (Wal), Y Yi-Nong (Chn), M McCardle (Aus), P Howard (Eng), R Sciot-Siegrist (Fra),
74 A Belt (Eng), W Xu (Chn), R Cho (Kor), J Geary (Nzl), H Shao-Cai (Chn), Y Guang-Ming (Chn), M Cheng-Yao (Chn), J Guerrier (Fra), N Von Dellingshausen (Ger), X Bowen (Chn), C Ford (Eng), C Jian (Chn) , M Ovesen (Den), S Dong (Chn) , Z Jin (Chn) , M Webb (Eng) , M Lundberg (Swe) , M Ford (Eng) , D Lawson (Aus), L Zehao (Chn)
75 B Neil (Sco), M Wiegele (Aut), T Murray (Eng), F Shiyu (Chn), Z Guo-Wu (Chn), R Santos (Por), C Changping (Chn), X Qiantong (Chn),
76 L Ding-Feng (Chn), J Sjöholm (Swe), H Zeming (Chn), Y Hao (Chn), L Xue-Wen (Chn), W Chang-Wei (Chn),
77 Y Tian (Chn), H Ze-Yu (Chn), C Koepka (USA), Y Jian-Feng (Chn), H Ren (Chn),
78 W Tu-Xuan (Chn), L Xue-Cheng (Chn),
80 L Ho Soo (Kor), D Chen Xiao (Chn), W Yanzhang (Chn),
81 C Ding-Gen (Chn), L Tao (Chn), X Qin (Chn),
88 Z Zenghaoqi (Chn).