Norway’s Lars Brovold and Jamie McLeary of Scotland both shot seven under par rounds of 65 for a share of the lead in the first round of the Reale Challenge de España.
Brovold carded nine birdies and two bogeys while McLeary, who finished 17th at last week’s Oceânico Group Pro-Am Challenge, dropped just one shot – on the fifth hole- during his round.
The pair are one shot clear of England’s Gary Lockerbie, who shot a flawless six under par round off 66 at the Casino Club de Golf Retamares, Madrid, and Scotland’s Lloyd Saltman whose eventful round included two eagles and a double bogey six at the third hole.
Brovold, who is playing in only his second European Challenge Tour event of the 2008 after missing the cut in the AGF-Allianz Open Côtes d'Armor Bretagne, said he was looking to kick start his season this weekend.
He said: “I hit the ball very straight and kept it in play all the time today. I managed to hit the greens and the key today was my putting and hitting it straight for the first time.
“The season pretty much just started for me. I played in South Africa in the winter, so I’m just starting and I’m playing ok.”
McLeary , whose best finish so far this season was seventh in Bretagne, is hoping to improve on his top 30 finish in Spain last year.
He said: “I hit a lot of iron shots very close, made some good birdies on the par fives. I’ve been playing well lately, I love to play here in Spain. I finished 28th last year.
“I’ve only played three events this year and it’s gone very well so far. I took four months off to practice. I wanted to make sure everything was ready before starting the season. I have been working with my coach at home. I am not a very technical player so we have been working on making it a lot more simple. I’ve come here and played well so it means it is working now.”
Lockerbie is looking for a return to his early season form after missing the cuts in both the DHL Wroclaw Open and the Oceânico Group Pro-Am Challenge.
He said: “I played very solid. It was the best I’ve played for a long time. I really didn’t do anything wrong. I hit fairways, greens and kept it very simple. There was nothing spectacular.
“I’ve played a couple of decent tournaments this season, finishing fourth in Italy, and since then I’ve missed two cuts, so it is nice to be back shooting a good score."