Manley is playing in just his third European Challenge Tour event of the season and at the sun-kissed Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf and Spa close to Colchester in Essex, he was full of confidence thanks to a bogey-free card which included five birdies and an eagle at the par five fifth hole.“I had a very good putt on the first hole,” said the 33 year old. “It was about 20 foot, and then I was unlucky not to birdie the second and third holes. I had a good up-and-down at the fourth to keep the momentum going, and then hit a nice drive at the fifth. My rescue came up short and I pitched it in from about 25 yards, so that really got me going.
“I kind of lost my way a little bit over the next few holes, but I managed to make pars and that was important. Then at the ninth I stiffed it to two feett and tapped in for birdie. I had some good chances on the next few holes and played solidly on the back nine and took advantage of the par fives.
“I am high on confidence. I've been playing nicely recently and I had a good lesson with my coach last week and again this week and I felt things changing for me. I've been putting well but I haven’t been hitting the ball well enough to go with it.
“But if I'm hitting the ball well I’ll do well because I normally putt pretty well. I am confident because there’s no pressure on me at the moment and as long as I'm committed I’ll do well."
Manley was four shots clear of the next best scores in the clubhouse, with François Delamontagne, Niklas Lemke, Matthew Nixon, Anthony Snobeck, Jurrian Van Der Vaart and local player Dale Whitnell all carding three under par rounds of 69.
Espen Kofstad, Eddie Pepperell and Raymond Russell, on his 40th birthday, were all a shot further back on two under par.