Jack Doherty leads way as weather curtails play at Sotogrande
Almost half the field fail to complete round on opening day
Scotland’s Jack Doherty drives from the 11th tee at La Reserva de Sotogrande yesterday. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images.
After play had been delayed by two hours and 40 minutes because of heavy rain, Doherty overcame strong winds to card a three-under-par 69 to lead by one from Welshman Bradley Dredge.
Doherty came through the European Tour qualifying school in November at the 12th attempt, but has only made one cut so far this season, finishing joint 63rd in the Tshwane Open.
The 31-year-old carded six birdies and three bogeys to top the leaderboard, with two-time Tour winner Dredge shooting three birdies and just one bogey.
“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 as I am limited in my starts.”
Spain’s Alejandro Canizares, who is looking for back-to-back wins following his victory in Morocco last month, had to settle for an opening 72 after a round containing three birdies, one bogey and a double bogey.
Simon Thornton and Damien McGrane both shot disappointing rounds of two-over par 74. Kevin Phelan shot a 75 and Peter Lawrie slumped to an 82, ten over par.
David Higgins and Shane Lowry were two over after 11 and 10 holes respectively and will resume at 9am today after play was suspended due to bad light.