A serene Mikael Lundberg rode an ever-increasing wind in northern Spain to forge an early lead during the first day of the Qualifying School Final Stage.
The Swede, who lives with his family just 60 miles south of PGA Catalunya Resort in the region’s capital of Barcelona, got off to the perfect start in his eighth appearance in the Final Stage with birdie at the first hole of the more difficult Stadium layout.
And despite a bogey at the following par four, the 39 year old bounced back with consecutive birdies at the third and fourth before gaining a further shot at the ninth to turn in 33 blows.
As winds swelled to around 25 miles per hour as the day progressed, Lundberg found further back-to-back birdies at the 11th and 12th before again bouncing back from bogey at the iconic downhill 13th as a seventh birdie of the day at 15 saw the two-time European Tour Champion regain a one shot lead as his highly impressive round neared completion.
After gaining the 21st card at the Final Stage last December – 11 years after first gaining his European Tour playing privileges in 2000 – Lundberg had mixed fortunes as 2012 yielded best finishes of tied fourth at the Madeira Islands Open and tied fifth at the Irish Open en route to a 128th place finish in The Race to Dubai – just nine places outside those who automatically retained their cards.
As two under par remained the next best score on the testing Stadium layout, Argentina’s Estanislao Goya stormed into second place on his own one shot behind after a superb start to the back nine on the Tour course at PGA Catalunya Resort as an eagle at the par five tenth was followed by a further gain at the 13th hole.
With three holes to play, Goya was one clear of a three-man group at three under par as the first round drew on, a trio that included Scotsman Gary Orr, who is looking to secure a 21st consecutive year as a European Tour Member this week.