Molinari has midday clubhouse lead

A sparkling 66 has given Italian Edoardo Molinari the midday clubhouse lead at the Bankia Madrid Masters.

A sparkling opening round of 66 has given Italian Edoardo Molinari the clubhouse lead midway through the first round of the Bankia Madrid Masters.

In a slow, but solid start, the Ryder Cup star parred each of his first eight holes at El Encin Golf Hotel, but then gave some foot to get his round up and running with a birdie at the 18th.

That was followed by a sensational front-nine 31 made up of an eagle three at the first, followed by three birdies.

And the two-time European Tour winner could quite easily have gone even lower. He missed a six foot birdie chance at the seventh.

At six-under par, however, the World Number 55 is clearly going to be the man to catch on a Spanish track where birdies and eagles are not always all that easy to come by.

Having said that, Tano Goya could well match and even better Molinari’s score, though, the Argentine being up there with him on six-under with just two holes left to play.

Like Molinari, the former Madeira Islands Open champion eagled the first and then proceeded to add four birdies.

England’s Steve Webster and Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Eduardo De La Riva were one shot further back on five under.

Webster had two bogeys, but also seven birdies – his highlight being a 20-foot putt for birdie at the 7th.

Big-hitting Quiros has only recently returned from a problematic wrist injury, but last year’s Open de España winner finished with three birdies in his last four holes – a charge started by an eight-foot effort at the sixth which circled the cup before dropping in.

The World No 1 and the defending champion this week, Luke Donald was amongst those on four under par, two behind the leaders and one ahead of embattled Englishman Oliver Wilson, who played in the last Ryder Cup, but who at 138th on the current Race to Dubai standings, needs a big end to his season to retain his full playing rights for next year.

Goya bogeyed the 17th to fall into a four-way tie for second as the afternoon starters came out of their blocks with Ross McGowan and Jaco Van Zyl getting away quickest. Both birdied three of their first four holes.

Also teeing off in the afternoon wave were tournament host Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, two-time Major winner John Daly and Ryder Cupper Henrik Stenson of Sweden..