The 2009 Scottish Challenge winner birdied two of his last three holes for a level-par 72 to sit just one shot off the clubhouse lead, held by English duo Nick Dougherty and Phillip Archer, along with home player Diego Larrazabal.
“It was very windy, so level-par is pretty good,” said McLeary, who is aiming to make up for lost time after missing a chunk of last season due to a hand injury. “Hopefully I can keep it going over the next three days,” added the Team Scottish Hydro man.
Dougherty, who lost his main Tour card last season, was delighted with his first outing on the second-tier circuit. “My manager Chubby (Chandler) said to me this week that it’s basically like I’m starting my career all over again and it does feel like that,” said the Englishman.
Callum Macaulay, who started the season with a promising third place in India at the end of January, opened with a 75, one fewer than Scott Henry, who had a mixed bag that included an eagle, a double-bogey and six bogeys. Chris Doak, Raymond Russell, Lloyd Saltman and Jack Doherty were all among the later starters on the opening day.