Antonio Hortal nudges Nacho Elvira aside to take Madeira lead

Ruaidhrí McGee and Kevin Phelan head Irish challenge but are six shots off the lead

Spain's Antonio Hortal stole the Madeira Islands Open lead from compatriot Nacho Elvira with a nine under par opening round.

The 26-year-old claimed eight birdies and an eagle, dropping just a single shot to take a one-stroke lead over Elvira.

Elvira had topped the leaderboard for most of the day, only to see Hortal edge past him at the last. The 28-year-old hit eight birdies in a faultless round, including four in a row to set the early pace.

Nudged ahead

Hortal nudged ahead, however, with New Zealand’s


Ryan Fox

tied in third at seven under along with Frenchman

Sebastien Gros


“I started to hole a lot of putts and drove very well too . . . that is key on this course, to drive it well and take your opportunities,” said Hortal.

“I started to hole them from 10 feet in before the turn and that’s how I continued during the whole round.

“It was a great round. I eagled the seventh too. That took me to two under so that really made me feel like I could go and have a low round.

“I’m not thinking about winning yet though. I’m just thinking about playing hole by hole and I’ll see where that takes me.”

Hansen in contention

Denmark’s JB Hansen led the Madeira stakes back in March when the tournament had to be abandoned due to bad weather.

This time around Hansen started with a solid five-under-par effort, leaving himself firmly in contention.

Ruaidhrí McGee shot a three-under-par 69 that included an eagle at the par-four 10th hole.

Kevin Phelan also shot three under, his round including five birdies and two bogeys. Simon Thornton was level par with Peter Lawrie lying on one over.

Scotland's Scott Henry is locked in an eight-way tie for fifth place at six under, with Wales' Stuart Manley and Englishman Chris Paisley.