Opening 67 represents a decent start for Higgins as he battles to secure 2014 tour card

Ruaidhri McGee and Dermot McElroy also well-placed after the first or a possible six gruelling rounds

David Higgins’ final leg in his quest for a European Tour Card for 2014 got off to a strong start after his opening round in the final stage of the European Tour Qualifying School.

Higgins fired a 3-under par 67 around the Tour Course to leave himself in a tie for 28th place at the PGA Catalunya Course in Girona, Spain.

Higgins, 40 got off to the best possible start by hitting a birdie at the first but a bogey 5 at the fourth brought his score back to level par and that’s how it stayed heading to the back nine.

But he managed birdies at the 10th, 15th, 16th and 18th as well as a bogey at the 14th to leave himself in a good position with five rounds still to play of the gruelling event.


Ruaidhri McGee, who won his first qualifying stage at Wychwood Park back in September, is also in the hunt for a Tour Card after a commendable 2-under par 70 over the Stadium course.

Impressive form
Belfast's McGee has been in impressive form as of late and played some quality shots throughout his round to finish the day in a share of 44th spot along with Ballymena's Dermot McElroy.

Ulsterman McElroy was also two-under par for the day over on the Tour Course after his round of 68 and like McGee will have a strong chance of gaining his Tour Card.

Kevin Phelan will have a lot of work to do today during his second round after a disappointing 73 left him at one-over par around the Stadium Course. Waterford's Phelan is currently in 103rd place and needs a drastic change in fortunes if he is to mount any sort of challenge.

Meanwhile, England's Richard Finch left himself well placed after the first round. Finch won twice on tour in 2008 – famously falling in the water at the final hole of the Irish Open en route to victory – but lost his card after mustering just one top-10 finish this season.

A six-under-par 64 over the Tour Course left him tied for second in Spain, where the top 25 and ties will earn a place on the 2014 Race to Dubai after a six-round marathon.

France's Edouard Espana leads the way after an eight-under-par 62, with Finch alongside compatriot Jamie Elson, Belgian Thomas Pieters, American Tain Lee and Swedes Michael Jonzon and Jens Dantorp. Dantorp was the only player in the top ten to start his challenge on the more difficult Stadium Course.

Former Ryder Cup star Oliver Wilson was in a tie for 58th on one under par, but former European Tour winners Rhys Davies, James Morrison, Oliver Fisher, Kenneth Ferrie and Nick Dougherty were all unable to break par. Phil Price was back on two over.