Spain's Jose Manuel Lara equalled the Auf de Wendlohe course record with a seven under par 65 to lead the Gunther Hamburg Classic in Germany. Lara, who narrowly missed out on earning his European Tour card last season when he missed a six foot birdie putt on the final green of the final event in Cuba, fired eight birdies with just one dropped shot to open a one shot lead the richest event on the Challenge Tour schedule.
After birdieing the second the 23-year-old from Valencia, who in 1996 won the Brabazon Trophy, the European Junior Championship and Spanish Amateur Championship, fired four consecutive birdies from the sixth to reach the turn in 31. He dropped a shot on the par three 11th after missing the green and failing to get up and down but hit back with birdies at the 12th, 15th and 16th.
Italy's Michele Reale, who topped the Challenge Tour Rankings in 1997, shot an opening 66 to lie alongside Sweden's Ulrik Gustafsson and Spain's Carlos Rodiles ahead of another Swede Pehr Magnebrant and Welshman Mark Mouland.
Mouland, who lost his European Tour card last season after 16 years on Tour in which he won twice, picked up six birdies with just the one dropped shot.
London's Andrew Butterfield and another Welshman Mark Pilkington are among the players on 68, four under par, while Dorset's Lee James, the 1994 Amateur Champion and former Walker Cup player, shot an opening 69 to make a solid start in event carrying a total prize fund of £150,000.Official Website