England's Ross McGowan opened-up a two-shot lead after the first day of the Castello Masters on Thursday but compatriot Tom Lewis, who captured his first title last week, suffered a bruising reality check.
McGowan, who is down at 543 in the world and battling to save his card, hit a seven under par 64, a round highlighted by an eagle two at the 503-yard 17th and five birdies.
"It's nice to be playing well again and up in contention," said McGowan, whose hopes of a Ryder Cup spot last year were scuppered by a wrist injury.
"I'm just trying to play each shot at a time and put up a good result at the end of the week. It?s nice to shoot 64. It looks like my game is getting better. I?m looking forward for tomorrow morning."
McGowan is two in front of Richard McEvoy and Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti, and three clear of a group which includes Sergio Garcia and Northern Irishman Michael Hoey on his first appearance since winning the title.
Defending champion Matteo Manassero, the 18-year-old Italian, had to settle for a 69 after kicking off with four successive birdies, while 20-year-old Lewis, winner of the Portugal Masters in only his third professional start on Sunday, shot 71.
The English youngster was suffering from a virus and turned in a disappointing three over, then had four birdies in a row, but closed with another bogey.
Source: AFP Global Edition