O'Briain lone Irishman under par in Norway
Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Neil O’Briain bogeyed three of his last five holes but still finished the best of the Irish after an opening 71 in the Viking Challenge in Norway.

The Old Conna professional was four under and bogey free after 10 holes but dropped shots at the 14th, 17th and 18th to end the day tied for 24th, four shots behind Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult and American Sihwan Kim at Miklagard Golf.

Kinhult was sitting in eighth place on the 2017 Road to Oman in early July, but a back injury forced him to miss four weeks and slide outside the top 15 in the Rankings.

“My back has been bad for about a year now. I have been able to play but not practice as much as I would have liked to all season, and then in Italy, it got a lot worse,” Kinhult said.

“I took the decision to take some time off and come back fit and healthy – and I am really feeling that way now.

“It is really nice to do well but it is an even better feeling just to be out there competing again. 

“I am happy to be back and hopefully I can play some more good golf over the rest of the week.”  

One behind Kinhult and Kim are South Africa’s Thriston Lawrence and England’s Jamie Elson, who both signed for four under par rounds of 68. 

Martin Wiegele, who won a European Challenge Tour event at Miklagard Golf in 2007, is two shots off the lead after an opening 69 – ten years after his first victory as a professional at the Kløfta course. 

Michael Hoey is tied 32nd after a 71 with Gavin Moynihan just inside the cut mark on one-over after he came back from three over after three holes to post a 73.

Kevin Phelan and Gary Hurley are tied 75th after 74s with Chris Selfridge 101st after a 75 and Stephen Grant back on five over after his 77.

Scores after Round One:

67 M Kinhult (Swe), S Kim (USA), 

68 J Elson (Eng), T Lawrence (RSA), 

69 S Forsström (Swe), D Huizing (Ned), R Enoch (Wal), M Wiegele (Aut), T Murray (Eng), V Riu (Fra), 

70 B Poke (Den), J McLeary (Sco), S Hutsby (Eng), E Bertheussen (Nor), K Samooja (Fin), R Evans (Eng), T Pulkkanen (Fin), J Doherty (Sco), B Hellgren (Swe), B Evans (Eng), M Ovesen (Den), C Sordet (Fra), 

71 N Geyger (Chi), B Eccles (Aus), A Saddier (Fra), M Trappel (Aut), M Lundberg (Swe), J Heath (Eng), Neil O'Briain (Irl), M Madsen (Den), T Tree (Eng), 

72 J McDonald (Sco), J Kunzenbacher (Ger), R James (Wal), A Zemmer (Ita), A Wennstam (Swe), C Koepka (USA), C Ford (Eng), A Ellingsberg (Nor), R Kellett (Sco), V Maroy (Nor), S Piaget (Mon), C Del Moral (Esp), Michael Hoey (Nir), C Blomstrand (Swe), J Sarasti (Esp), M Laskey (Wal), N Johansson (Swe), M Baldwin (Eng), R Saxton (Ned), K Johanson (am) (Nor), 

73 A Maestroni (Ita), E Johansen (Nor), N Von Dellingshausen (Ger), L Nemecz (Aut), D Foos (Ger), W Besseling (Ned), E Goya (Arg), A Bjornsson (Isl), L Vaisanen (Fin), K Johannessen (Nor), R Davies (Wal), H Joannes (Bel), Gavin Moynihan (Irl), A Olsen (Nor), J Garcia Pinto (Esp), P Howard (Eng), S Henry (Sco), M Lampert (Ger), A Bernadet (Fra), R Hjelm (Den), B Hafthorsson (Isl), M Cort (Eng), J Hansen (Den), 

74 M Eggenberger (Sui), W Harrold (Eng), M Søgaard (Den), R Kakko (Fin), J Allan (Eng), H Rönneblad (Swe), D Berna Manzanares (Esp), R Green (Aus), M Schwab (Aut), C Aronsen (Nor), K Eriksson (Swe), J Lando Casanova (Fra), J Dantorp (Swe), S Fernandez (Esp), P Mejow (Ger), Kevin Phelan (Irl), T Linard (Fra), G Boyd (Eng), F Maccario (Ita), O Stark (Swe), R McEvoy (Eng), M Ford (Eng), J Van Der Vaart (Ned), P Widegren (Swe), C Mivis (Bel), Gary Hurley (Irl), 

75 Chris Selfridge (Nir), C Griffiths (Eng), J Guerrier (Fra), R Santos (Por), S Aadusaar (Est), M Schneider (Ger), R Echenique (Arg), C Braeunig (Ger), N Cullen (Aus), M Braadlie (am) (Nor), 

76 P Tarver-Jones (Eng), M Ulseth (Nor), C Bezuidenhout (RSA), S Einhaus (Ger), J Vecchi Fossa (Ita), P Mikalsen (Nor), R Dinwiddie (Eng), M Tullo (Chi), J Pastor (Esp), J Rutherford (Eng), S Jeppesen (Swe), J Sjöholm (Swe), 

77 G King (Eng), J Ramos (Por), B Neil (Sco), E Dubois (Fra), L Cianchetti (Ita), F Bergamaschi (Ita), A Altuntas (Tur), J Brun (Fra), Stephen Grant (Irl), J Arnoy (Nor), O Wilson (Eng), L Gerhardsen (Nor), 

78 J Bower (Eng), J Makitalo (Fin), E Di Nitto (Ita), P Roos (Fin), F Daux (Fra), L Galliano (Sui), B Skogen (am) (Nor), 

79 O Loftsson (Isl), M Pastor (Esp), N Lindstrom (Swe), M Heien (Nor), N Ravano (Ita), R Charania (Ken), 

80 O Lindell (Fin), G Pinto (Por), S Stavnar (Nor), T Shadbolt (Eng), 

81 P Maddy (Eng), 

82 J Volden (am) (Nor), K Krokeide (am) (Nor), 

84 S Isik (Tur), 

91 J Johannessen (Nor).