Pre-tournament favourite Sergio Garcia gave himself a mountain to climb to challenge for a second Open de Espana title after a poor opening round.
Garcia, who came into the event on the back of losing a play-off for the Players Championship on Sunday, could only manage a three-over-par 75 at El Prat to finish ten shots behind leader Trevor Fisher of South Africa.
The world No 7 carded six bogeys and three birdies in the tougher afternoon conditions, although Darren Fichardt was also among the later starters and shot 66 to join England’s Tommy Fleetwood and home favourite Eduardo de la Riva in joint second.
After a long flight from Johannesburg on Monday, Fisher only managed nine holes of practice on Tuesday before walking the rest of the course during the pre-tournament pro-am.
However, that did not prevent the world No 172 from carding eight birdies and just one bogey in an opening 65 in pursuit of his second European Tour title of the season following victory in the Africa Open in March. I hit one or two loose shots but felt I kept the momentum going, which is key to any good round of golf,” said Fisher. “I sank one or two good putts for par and overall putted really well today, which helped.
“It’s been a massive change since my win. I’ve got a lot to learn, a lot to see. I’m taking in everything and trying to enjoy every week as it comes. Obviously I can play the full schedule now and get to play with the top players in the world. Hopefully we can put a few more good rounds together.”
Fleetwood had two eagles and three birdies in his 66 as he looks to remain inside the world’s top 60 after next week’s BMW PGA Championship in order to qualify for next month’s US Open.
Paul Lawrie is the leading Scot in joint-17th after a 70 that included five birdies in the first ten holes.
Elsewhere, Glasgow’s Andrew McArthur has the leader, Irishman Ruaidhri McGee, in his sights after an opening 70 in the Made in Denmark Challenge, while Carnoustie’s Fraser Mann leads by a shot after the second round of the Senior PGA Professional Championship at Foxhills in Surrey. “I just played nicely hitting the fairways and greens,” said Mann after a best-of-the-day 70, two-under-par. “I didn’t hit many bad shots and I had the wife on the bag, who played a role keeping the clubs nice and dry.”
On the EuroPro Tour, the final two rounds of the World Snooker Open will be played today after a rain-hit second day at Celtic Manor in Wales.