Argentina’s Rafael Gomez and New Zealand’s Stephen Scahill lead the European Challenge Tour’s OKI Mahou Challenge de España after opening rounds of six under par at the Centro Nacional de Golf in Madrid.
Gomez won his European Tour card via the Challenge Tour Rankings last season but has disappointed on the main Tour this year. He is now hoping to play out the rest of is year on the Challenge Tour as he bids to retain his place at European golf’s top table.
An eagle, five birdies and just a single dropped shot at the home of the Spanish Golf Federation gave the Argentinean hope of achieving that goal.
“I played very well from the tenth to 18th, my front nine, and holed some very good putts especially the one from off the green on the 16th for eagle.
I tried to keep playing aggressively but the wind was strong today and the course was a lot ,more complicated than it was when I played my practice rounds.
“My season has not been very good this year, but I hope that I can keep my card for the main Tour by playing well this week and then the last three Challenge Tour tournaments.”
Scahill has suffered a similar fate to Gomez this season. The former European Tour player has not performed to the high standard that saw him take 65th place on The 2003 European Tour Order of Merit, but, like Gomez, can draw encouragement from his first round showing in Madrid.
“My season has been terrible and I really need a good finish this week,” said Scahill, who put together an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys to join Gomez atop the leaderboard.
They lead a group of seven players by a single stroke, with a further ten men on four under par.