Ashley Chesters finished his first round with a flourish to open up a one-stroke lead on the weather-disrupted opening day of the Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.
The 28-year-old Englishman fired back-to-back birdies at the 17th and 18th to jump to five under par and claim the outright lead on a day when over four hours were lost because of bad weather.
France’s Gregory Bourdy, who needs a strong finish this week to break into the top 116 on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex from his current position of 179th, is Chesters’ nearest challenger on four under after he took advantage of all three par fives on his way to a flawless 67.
Defending champion and tournament host Sergio Garcia was another stroke back on three under alongside Australian Jason Scrivener and afternoon starters Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who will finish their first rounds when play resumes at 9am on Friday morning.
Stormy conditions caused problems throughout the day on Thursday, with all tee times pushed back by two hours before play had even started as inclement weather and lightning hit Real Club Valderrama in the morning.
Darren Fichardt was the leading South African at -2 through 18 with Justin Walters finishing level par through eight holes played.