Sweden's Johan Skold and Argentina’s Andres Romero share the first day lead in the Abama Open de Canarias after opening rounds of five under par 66 left the pair two clear of the field.
Skold is making a late bid to retain his European Tour card, hoping to climb from his current position of 126th on The European Tour Order of Merit into the all important top 115. A three putt on the final green took the edge of his otherwise faultless round over the over the steeply undulating Abama course.
Skold has earned his card five times since coming on Tour in 1997 but with three events remaining, needs a strong finish to the season to save himself from a ninth visit to the School.
Victory not only earns a one-year exemption but also takes the winner to the HSBC Champions Tournament in Shanghai in November..
Skold said: "The last hole was very annoying but I played well all the way through and hit all 18 greens.”
Romero, winner of the Morson International Pro-Am Challenge on the European Challenge Tour in August, has no such worries. The 24 year old is virtually assured of a place among Europe’s elite next year as he currently lies tenth on the Challenge Tour Rankings. He picked up five birdies without a dropped shot to join Skold at the top of the leaderboard.
"I'm very happy," said Romero, who finished seventh and second in his last two events. "I'm playing very solid and with lots of confidence. I'm tenth in the Rankings, I'm almost there but there is still a lot to do."
The Scottish pair of Marc Warren, who lies one place below Romero in the Challenge Tour Rankings, and David Patrick, English left-hander Stuart Little and big-hitting South African Titch Moore head the chasing pack on three under par, two off the lead.
Santiago Luna of Spain and England’s Mark Roe were fittingly paired together in what is the 500th European Tour event for both of them. Roe started birdie-eagle, pitching in for a two at the 387 yard 11th, but then three-putted three times for a two under par 69. Luna, 129th on the Order of Merit and needing a big week, shot a 70.