Ireland’s Mark Staunton made an impressive start to the European Tour Qualifying School First Stage Section A, carding a five under par 67 to lead by three shots from Scottish pair Greg Nicolson and Craig Matheson at The Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course, in Scotland.
After opening with three pars, Staunton suffered a setback when he double bogeyed the par three fourth hole, but he recovered in style with a birdie on the next hole followed by another on the ninth.
He then eagled the 11th hole before picking up shots on the 14th, 16th and 17th holes to open up a cushion at the top of the leaderboard, with the top nine players and ties at the conclusion of 72 holes progressing through to Stage Two.
At Golfclub Schloss Ebreichsdorf, near Vienna, it was Austrian Jurgen Maurer and Panos Karantzias of Greece who set the pace after the first day.
The pair both carded opening rounds of 65 to share the lead on seven under par, one shot clear of Swede Krister Eriksson, Luke Hickmott of Australia and American amateur Jim Liu.
The top 15 and ties from Ebreichsdorf will qualify for the Second Stage, which takes place across four venues in Spain – Campo de Golf El Saler, Las Colinas Golf & Country Club, El Valle Golf Resort and Lumine Golf & Beach Club – from November 7-10. Approximately 310 players will line up at those four venues, with about 80 progressing through to the Final Stage at PGA Catalunya Resort – also a European Tour Course - from November 24-29.