Sotogrande – Ashley Chesters finished his opening 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 holes to record a five under par round of 66 and claim the clubhouse lead on a day when over four hours were lost because of bad weather.
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.
Gregory Bourdy of France, who needs a strong finish this week to jump up the Race to Dubai Rankings from his current position of 179th, is Chesters’ nearest challenger on four under par after he took advantage of all three par-fives on his way to a bogey-free round of 67.
Defending champion and tournament host Sergio Garcia is once shot further back on three under par alongside Australian Jason Scrivener and fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano who are amongst 60 players who will return to complete round one when play resumes on Friday.
South African Darren Fichardt, Shane Lowry of Ireland and Scot Richie Ramsay are amongst a group of nine players currently in a tie for seventh place on two under par.