Paul Dunne made four birdies in a one-under 69 to lie just five shots behind veteran Miguel Angel Jiménez in the Omega European Masters.
The 24-year old is tied for 42nd at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club, where the 53-year-old Spaniard's six under 64 gave him a share of the first round lead with Englishman Tyrrell Hatton and Scott Hend of Australia.
With one win and two runner up finishes in his 27 previous appearances in the event (not to mention eight further top tens), Jiménex carded seven birdies and a bogey before being joined at the top by World Number 30 Hatton, who holed his approach at the par four 12th en route to his lowest round of the season.
Hend came agonisingly close to claiming this historic title for a first time last year but was beaten in a play-off by Swede Alex Noren and he continued that momentum from last year as he signed for a bogey-free 64 to make it a three-way tie at the top.
New Zealand’s Ryan Fox, Australian Todd Sinnott, Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, South African Darren Fichardt and Scotsmen David Drysdale and Duncan Stewart were all a shot further back on five under par.
Miguel Angel Jiménez
"When you hit it good, nothing is difficult. Nothing is ever easy but if you're playing well, hitting it good, that's what you need to shoot low scores. I always enjoy coming here, it's an amazing place. It's amazing to come here every year and see the people you know from so many years in this place. The golf course is a great golf course.
"I'm playing well, and we'll see what happens. Six under par 64 is amazing, I'm playing very well. I woke up very early this morning and got the profit of that. I'm playing solid, I'm feeling nice and motivated.
“The pin positions are very fair. In these conditions, they are holding very well. It's not a very long course and they need to put up some kind of defence.”
“I’m really happy with that round. It’s been a pretty difficult run for me recently but I played really nicely today. I still feel the putter was a little bit cold but my long game was really good and that helped me out with today’s score.
“I don’t feel like I putted that great today, I certainly didn’t hole enough putts, although I shot a really good score. It was more down to my long game which was really good, so hopefully, I can continue that and drop a few more putts in the next three rounds.
“At the 12th we had 135 metres – we’re using a metres book this week – and it was a full pitching wedge and took one bounce and in, so that’s always nice.
“I’ll just wake up tomorrow and see what the conditions are like but I really like it here. It’s my fourth time here and it’s a great place. Hopefully, I can continue to play well and have a good result.”
“It was good to get some birdies on the back nine, which was my front nine today. I had to play the hard hole which was the par-three 16 and made a bogey there. It was nice to get some birdies before dropping that shot.
“It was nice to get off to a good start after coming so close last year. The course is playing a bit different this year so it’s nice to come in with a good round before the wind picks up in the afternoon. Hopefully another good round tomorrow will put me in position for the weekend.
“Putting has always been the key to scoring. It’s always about where you hit your bad shots on this golf course but that’s alright. I think a lot of experience on this golf course does help. It’s a beautiful day today and I heard it will stay beautiful tomorrow too. We will see how it goes.”
“It was quite a mixed round of golf really. It’s a tricky golf course especially with the elevation, you can get some balls going far too far. There was a lot of good in there, the short game was really good and that kept things together. There was a little bit of rustiness in there too but I think overall it was a pretty good day.
“The greens are really firm and they’re very small greens so they’re hard to hit regardless and I managed to keep myself out of trouble off the greens for the most part. I had a chip in and I got the majority of them up and down and that’s what you’ve got to do around here to get a score.
“Hopefully I’ve got three more days left of that. I hit two great drives down the par fives and had nine iron and pitching wedge into both of them on the back nine. I hit a great shot to the last as well.
“I was sort of floundering a little bit after double-bogeyed the 12th and what was looking like a pretty good round of golf stalled a bit there. I took advantage coming home though and it’s nice to get a good score out of it in the end.
“It’s fantastic here. We’ve got some pretty good golf courses in New Zealand views-wise and I think this rivals any of them. It’s just an awesome town, it’s my first time up and some of the guys had been saying how it’s one of the best weeks of the year if not the best, and I certainly agree with them so far.”
“I hit a lot of good tee shots today. You have to keep the ball in play to score on this course. The fairways are quite tight so you need to keep the ball in play and hit as many greens as you can. I putted really well. I didn’t miss any putts from three to four feet. That’s the key for me today and I gained a lot of confidence from the way I putted.
“It’s a good golf course. The greens are tricky. You have to be able to read the greens well. I worked well with my caddy today. I am happy with the way I played. I enjoyed myself out there. I had a good run of birdies out there, starting from the seventh.
“I hit the green with my tee shot on seventh and made two putts for birdie and sank an 18-footer for birdie again on eighth. On the ninth, I hit a good tee shot and a good second shot and putted in from three to four feet. I sank an amazing putt on 10th. I hit my tee shot into the rough on the right and hit my second shot to greenside on the left.
“It was a difficult putt but I holed it from 22 feet. I guess it’s because I was confident with my putting. I have been here many times. I think the most important thing is to have the right attitude out there. You need to choose your clubs wisely too. I talked a lot to my caddy and I think that helps. Our game plan proved to be successful.”
Omega European Masters, Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club (Par 70)
64 T Hatton (Eng), M Jiménez (Esp), S Hend (Aus),
65 T Jaidee (Tha), D Stewart (Sco), D Drysdale (Sco), T Sinnott (Aus), D Fichardt (RSA), R Fox (Nzl),
66 F Zanotti (Par), D Im (USA), C Pigem (Esp), A Da Silva (Bra), S Crocker (am) (USA),
67 M Pavon (Fra), D Perrier (Fra), P Peterson (USA), R Gouveia (Por), B Rumford (Aus), J Suri (USA), D Lipsky (USA), R Wattel (Fra), P Hanson (Swe), F Fritsch (Ger), M Fitzpatrick (Eng), J Luiten (Ned),
68 M Kieffer (Ger), L Bjerregaard (Den), D Frittelli (RSA), S Kapur (Ind), M Armitage (Eng), A Björk (Swe), P Larrazábal (Esp), M Fraser (Aus), F Aguilar (Chi), R Sterne (RSA), L Donald (Eng), S Brazel (Aus), J Lagergren (Swe), L Jensen (Den) , S Gallacher (Sco) ,, ,
69 Paul Dunne (Irl), K Aphibarnrat (Tha), R Gonzalez (Arg), H Porteous (RSA), J Morrison (Eng), W Ashun (Chn), A Quiros (Esp), R Ramsay (Sco), N Holman (Aus), G Havret (Fra), A Romero (Arg), A Otaegui (Esp), R Karlberg (Swe), J Lima (Por), C Shinkwin (Eng), N Bertasio (Ita),
70 D Burmester (RSA), R Paratore (Ita), P Saksansin (Tha), L Galliano (Sui), A Noren (Swe), R Bland (Eng), M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), G Coetzee (RSA), A Wall (Eng), T Lewis (Eng), C Hanson (Eng), D Brooks (Eng), J Walters (RSA), S Vincent (Zim), E De La Riva (Esp), J Kruger (RSA), N Elvira (Esp), M Ilonen (Fin), J Scrivener (Aus), B Hebert (Fra), J Quesne (Fra), T Detry (Bel), S Walker (Eng),
71 L Westwood (Eng), P Khongwatmai (Tha), B Wiesberger (Aut), R De Sousa (Sui), T Chuayprakong (Tha), W Ormsby (Aus), R Jacquelin (Fra), N Fasth (Swe), P Pittayarat (Tha), M Siem (Ger),
72 P Tangkamolprasert (Tha), L Cianchetti (Ita), S Henry (Sco), G Storm (Eng), B Dredge (Wal), J Donaldson (Wal), T Fleetwood (Eng), J Smith (Eng), J Campillo (Esp), J Janewattananond (Tha), M Manassero (Ita), M Wallace (Eng), M Kawamura (Jpn), G Stal (Fra), G Fortini (am) (Ita),
73 S Rahman (Ban), A Bernadet (Fra), M Warren (Sco), R Gangjee (Ind), N Srithong (Tha), C S (Ind), C Wood (Eng), D Chia (Mas), D Horsey (Eng), S Chawrasia (Ind),
74 M Carlsson (Swe), J Norris (Aus), G Bourdy (Fra), R Wannasrichan (Tha), R Langasque (Fra), R Fisher (Eng), A Levy (Fra), E Molinari (Ita), V Dubuisson (Fra), C Shih-Chang (Tpe), R Rock (Eng), B Rusch (Sui), N Fung (Mas), D Boonma (Tha), J Carlsson (Swe), J Freiburghaus (am) (Sui),
75 S Lee (Kor), M Grönberg (Swe), B Stone (RSA), L Slattery (Eng), R Khan (Ind), T Wiratchant (Tha), M Tabuena (Phi), S Gros (Fra),
76 O Fisher (Eng), A Dodt (Aus), C Paisley (Eng), P Swangarunporn (Tha), D Willett (Eng),
77 S Jamieson (Sco), B Ritthammer (Ger), J Burnier (Sui), A Ameil-Planchin (am) (Sui),
78 S Dyson (Eng), J Ballesteros (Esp), L Wei-Chih (Tpe), P Widegren (Swe),
81 A Knappe (Ger),
82 L Denk (am) (Aut), H Rouillon (am) (Fra),
** T Bjørn (Den)