Scotland’s Jack Doherty led the inaugural NH Collection Open after the opening round had been delayed by two hours and 40 minutes because of heavy rain in Cadiz.
The 31 year old Doherty came through Qualifying School at the 12th attempt in November, although has made only one cut to date in his rookie campaign.
But five birdies and two bogeys over his opening 16 holes put the former Australian Amateur Champion three under par and one ahead of Adrian Otaegui and Bradley Dredge.
The 21 year old Challenge Tour graduate Otaegui was two under with two to play, and the Spaniard was joined by Dredge after the Welshman birdied the fifth and seventh.
The 40 year old Dredge is at the opposite end of the experience scale, having played 366 European Tour events over a 20-year career, but the two-time winner is currently playing on a medical exemption.
England’s former Ryder Cup star David Howell and American Qualifying School graduate Connor Arendell were the only other players under par for the day.
Doherty bogeyed the eighth to fall into a share of the lead with Dredge and Otaegui, but birdied the ninth and with a round of 69 soon found himself with a two shot clubhouse lead.
Dredge dropped his first shot of the day at the 13th and Otaegui signed off with a dropped shot on the 18th, and as a result they were joined in second place by Italy’s Lorenzo Gagli, Finn Mikko Korhonen, Scot Jamie McLeary, Swedes Patrick Sjöland and Jens Dantorp and England’s David Horsey and David Howell.
“It was a tough day,” said Doherty. “We had a 20 yard wind on the front nine and almost 30 yards on the back nine, which is a lot.
“The ball is going a long way downwind and it’s hardly going anywhere into the wind, but I practice on the West Coast of Scotland which is normally quite windy, so I know how to play it and I just stuck to my game plan.
“The course is lovely, it’s my first time here and I enjoyed it. I like the way it sets up and it’s in good condition. Considering we had lots of rain yesterday and last night, the course has held up nicely and the greens are fast, especially downwind.
“This is my first year on the main Tour and my main target is to keep my card for next year; that would be the main goal, as I am limited in my starts. Every week is big, but a big week here would be huge.”