Scotland's Connor Syme will be hoping it is a case of third time lucky as he chases a maiden European Tour title in the Andalucia Masters.
Syme held a one-shot lead after 54 holes of the Celtic Classic before finishing third and shared the lead at the same stage of the following week’s ISPS Handa Wales Open, only to slip to eighth at Celtic Manor.
After a week off the 25-year-old returned to action at Valderrama and defied blustery winds to card an opening two-under-par 69 to share the lead with Spain's Jorge Campillo, Italy's Guido Migliozzi and American John Catlin.
Spain's Pep Angles was the only other player to break par with a one-under 70 while UK Championship winner Rasmus Hojgaard was part of a six-strong group on level par and former world number one Martin Kaymer returned a 72.
Jonathan Caldwell was one under after seven holes of his first round but two bogeys in the closing four holes saw the Northern Irish golfer sign for a two-over 73. Cormac Sharvin opened with a four-over 75 as he also stumbled close to come, with bogeys on the 15th and 18th and a double-bogey on the par-five 17th.
Gavin Moynihan found trouble on the front nine, carding a quintuple-bogey nine on the par-four fifth to go alongside three bogeys and a birdie as he went out in seven-over 42.
Syme, who finished his round in style with three straight birdies, said: “It’s a brutal course, obviously very, very challenging and anything under par round here is a very good score so very, very happy with minus two today.
“I didn’t actually hit the best tee shot down 16 but managed to get something on to the green and holed a nice putt for birdie.
“Seventeen was an opportunity today downwind and I missed it in the right spot and managed to get up and down, and 18 I hit a nice shot round the trees and managed to hole a nice little chip to finish.
“It’s nice to just keep it rolling. Although it was only one week off I felt a little bit fatigued this morning and didn’t get off to a great start. But me and my caddie spoke about it this morning, saying that you don’t really need to focus that hard or for that long in golf.
“You can switch off after your tee shot and get back on it. So I managed that well today and I certainly felt the juices flowing a little bit certainly once I got into the round a little bit.”
Campillo admitted a 69 around Valderrama was equivalent to a far better score on most other courses, adding: “It feels like six or seven under par on a regular golf course, at least.
“I played pretty good on the front nine and the back nine I hung in there pretty good. Just a shame about that bogey on 17 but overall it was a good round.
“I live close to here so I normally have a lot of people coming to watch and it was a strange feeling [without spectators] but it is what it is. We have a few guys who can watch 17 at least and hopefully we can get better from here.”
British and Irish unless stated, par 71
69 Guido Migliozzi (Ita), Jorge Campillo (Esp), Connor Syme, John Catlin (USA)
70 Pep Angles (Esp)
71 Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Max Schmitt (Ger), Justin Harding (Rsa), Jake McLeod (Aus), Rasmus Hojgaard (Den), Pablo Larrazabal (Esp)
72 Toby Tree, Martin Kaymer (Ger), Alvaro Quiros (Esp), Thomas Bjorn (Den), Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Dave Coupland, Jamie Donaldson, Wilco Nienaber (Rsa), Ross McGowan
73 Steven Brown, Kalle Samooja (Fin), Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Paul Waring, Adrien Saddier (Fra), Andy Sullivan, Sebastian Soderberg (Swe), Andrea Pavan (Ita), Alejandro Canizares (Esp), Johannes Veerman (USA), Jonathan Caldwell, Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn), Thomas Detry (Bel), Ewan Ferguson
74 Ricardo Gouveia (Por), Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Alexander Bjork (Swe), David Horsey, Brandon Stone (Rsa), Julien Guerrier (Fra), Jose-Maria Olazabal (Esp), Joachim B. Hansen (Den), Ben Stow, Romain Wattel (Fra), Jbe Kruger (Rsa), Pedro Figueiredo (Por), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Lorenzo Gagli (Ita), Benjamin Hebert (Fra)
75 Ben Evans, Alfredo Garcia-Heredia (Esp), Carlos Pigem (Esp), Robin Roussel (Fra), Wil Besseling (Ned), Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin), Eduardo De La Riva (Esp), Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Gregory Havret (Fra), Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra), Craig Howie, Cormac Sharvin, Oscar Lengden (Swe), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Esp), Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), Pedro Oriol (Esp), Scott Vincent (Zim), Alexander Levy (Fra)
76 Sihwan Kim (Kor), Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez (Esp), Francesco Laporta (Ita), Joel Sjoholm (Swe), Darius Van Driel (Ned), Bryce Easton (Rsa), Edoardo Molinari (Ita), Lee Westwood, Joel Stalter (Fra), Damien Perrier (Fra), Rikard Karlberg (Swe), Matthew Southgate, Robin Sciot-Siegrist (Fra), Antoine Rozner (Fra), Victor Perez (Fra), Borja Virto (Esp), Marcel Schneider (Ger)
77 Joakim Lagergren (Swe), Ashun Wu (Chn), Romain Langasque (Fra), Renato Paratore (Ita), Jeff Winther (Den), Alvaro Mueller-Baumgart (Esp), Sami Valimaki (Fin), Justin Walters (Rsa), Zack Murrary (Aus), Calum Hill, Nacho Elvira (Esp), Adrian Otaegui (Esp)
78 Richard Bland, Lorenzo Scalise (Ita), David Howell, Adrian Meronk (Pol), Ricardo Santos (Por), Grant Forrest, Tom Gandy (IOM)
79 Marcus Armitage, Joost Luiten (Ned), Garrick Porteous, Rhys Enoch, Gavin Moynihan, Jason Scrivener (Aus), Samuel Del Val (Esp), Nino Bertasio (Ita)
80 Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Maverick Antcliff (Aus), (a) Alejandro Del Rey (Esp), Robert Macintyre, Emilio Cuartero Blanco (Esp)
81 Peter Hanson (Swe), Shubhankar Sharma (Ind), Matthew Jordan, Kristoffer Broberg (Swe)
82 Michael Campbell (Nzl), Andres Romero (Arg)
83 Eduard Rousaud (Esp)
85 Anton Karlsson (Swe), Niklas Lemke (Swe), Lars Van Meijel (Ned)
86 Ivan Cantero Gutierrez (Esp)