Hortal red hot in Madeira

Antonio Hortal placed himself in contention for his first ever European Tour title on Thursday when he took a one shot lead in the first round of the Madeira Islands Open.

The 26-year-old, who turned professional in 2010, had an unfortunate start to the round when he bogeyed the second hole.

However, Hortal managed to put the poor result behind him and went on to shoot the first of eight birdies on the fifth.

“I started with an early bogey but then I started to play very well. I started to hole a lot of putts and drove very well too so that is key on this course, to drive it well and take your opportunities,” he told the European Tour website.

“I started to hole them from ten feet in before the turn and that’s how I continued during the whole round.

“I was always getting up and down from inside 40 yards so that really helps. It was a great round.”

The Spaniard carded an eagle on the par-five seventh and fired the rest of his birdies between holes nine and 17 to post a nine-under 63.

“I eagled the seventh too, with a good drive, a two iron to just in front of the green and then I chipped in from there,” Hortal added

“That took me to two under so that really made me feel like I could go and have a low round. I’m not thinking about winning yet though. I’m just thinking about playing hole by hole and I’ll see where that takes me.”

Hortal’s compatriot Nacho Elvira is second on the leaderboard after he shot an eight-under 64 in the first round.

Elvira stayed bogey free throughout the first day on the Santo de Serra Golf Club, shooting six bogeys on the back nine – including four in a row between 15 and 18 – and another two on the front.

Ryan Fox and Sebastian Gros are currently tied for third after both limited their bogeys to one each to card seven-under 65s, while eight players are tied for fifth on six-under.