Conor O’Rourke made five birdies in an opening 68 to keep his hopes alive of winning promotion to the Challenge Tour at the Alps Tour’s Grand Final in Italy.
The Naas man (27) is tied for ninth on three-under par at Golf Club Des Iles Borromées, an hour northwest of Milan.
And while he’s ranked 13th in the Order of Merit with the top five points winners earning Challenge Tour cards, he could still bridge the 3913-point gap on fifth ranked Xavier Poncelet with a top-three finish.
He’s four shots adrift of Spain’s David Borda, who made and eagle, six birdies and a bogey in a seven-under 64 to lead by a shot from Victor Marchiset of France.
Dubliner David Carey, who is 31st in the money list, opened with a level par 71 to share 22nd spot.
Whatever happens, O’Rourke will have another chance to keep his dream of making it to the European Tour or the Challenge Tour alive from November 2-5 when he tees it up at the Second Stage of the European Tour Qualifying School.