Javier Gallegos shot one-under 71 to seize the early momentum when play resumed in the MENA Golf Tour Qualifying School on Monday after heavy rains forced cancellation of the opening round.
Local knowledge came in handy as the Spaniard mixed an eagle on the 8th and three birdies with three bogeys to take a one-shot lead over David Booth of England.
Jordan Garnish, also of England, occupied solo third a further shot adrift with Jean-Luc Burnier of Switzerland, Manuel Quiros of Spain and England’s Liam Crawford sharing fourth on two-over 74.
A total of 92 players, including six amateurs, have entered the Q-School at Almenara Golf Club in the Spanish resort of Sotogrande in the Cadiz province.
The top 60 players will be eligible for Category-7 membership of the MENA Golf Tour for the 2016 season which will have 20 events, covering new destinations in Kuwait, Egypt, Spain, Thailand and South Africa.
Gallegos, who made the turn at two under, picked up another shot at the 12th, but a bogey on the 13th and a double bogey on the 16th halted his charge, though he ended the round with a birdie on the 18th.
England’s Booth birdied the second and the fourth to make a solid start, but dropped three shots in his next 10 holes before picking up a birdie on the 18th to finish on level par.
The Spanish duo of Rafa Culla and Salvador Paya Vila led the challenge for amateurs in the field, both carding eight-over 80s as Christopher Cannon, who is plying his trade on the Asian Tour, returned a 77 after making a birdie on his opening hole.
The event, which has now been shortened from 54 holes to 36 because of rains, had no half-way cut.