Frenchman Sebastian Delagrange shot a superb 63, eight under par, to lead the way at Emporda in the Second Stage of Qualifying School.
The 25-year-old from Paris fired eight birdies in a flawless round where he hit 17 greens in regulation. Four of those birdies came through putts of 30 feet. “It was a good round for every part of my game,” he said.
Delagrange has yet to make the breakthrough to the European Tour since turning professional in 1996 but won Pre-Qualifying 1 in Manchester in 1996. He made the cut in the Finals that year and has been practising his trade on the Challenge Tour since then.
Delagrange leads by one shot from fellow Frenchman Christian Cevear, who picked up birdies at the 10th, 14th, 15th, fourth, sixth, seventh, and ninth.
Cevear graduated from the Qualifying School last year, the third time he has successfully graduated in four attempts since turning professional in 1993 after a glittering amateur career, but struggled throughout the season after making some changes to his swing over the winter.
“I’ve had a successful run at the Qualifying School Finals so know if I get through I can do well, but the idea is not to keep going back. My goal is to get more consistency into my game,” he said.
Welshman Richard Dinsdale, in the first group out, shot a six under par 65 continuing a run of form that has seen him win the Welsh Professionals Championship at The Vale of Glamorgan two months ago and then the PGA of Europe Championship in Sardinia a fortnight ago.
Dinsdale, who graduated to the main Tour in 1996 through the Tour School but subsequently lost his card, said: “I’m on a bit of a roll at the moment.” His round included four consecutive birdies from the eighth hole.
Dinsdale, from Newport GC, lies alongside England’s Mark Foster.Emporda Round 1 Scores
At Pals GC, Scotland’s Alan Reid is another player enjoying a rich vein of form after opening with a 66, seven under par, to share the lead with the expreienced 43-year-old Juan Quiros from Spain. 25-year-old Reid, assistant pro at Prestwick, won the Kilspinki Assistants Autumn Classic last week and continued his form with a run of seven birdies and no bogeys. He credited his good form to his coach Stuart Smith, the head professional at Preswick and some accurate driving.
Quiros, who plays at Sotogrande, has been out of action with a wrist injury since the start of June and was unable to play at all until earlier this month. His round was helped by an eagle on the 16th.Pals Round 1 Scores
At Perelada, the third of the courses hosting the Qualifying School –Stage Two, Welshman Matthew Elliss and England’s David Lynn are setting the pace after opening with rounds of 65, seven under par.
Two of the victorious Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team made a solid start. Graham Rankin opened with a two under 70 to share 16th place at Perelada, lying alongside the 1997 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Scott Henderson, while Simon Dyson shares 13th place at Emporda after a three under 68.
A total of 29 players from each course will graduate to the Qualifying School Finals to be held at San Roque Club and Real Club de Golf Sotogrande in Southern Spain on November 17-22. The 87 players will join 81 exempt players to make a field of 168.Peralada Round 1 Scores