Gane leads Madeira Islands Open by a shot after birdie burst on back nine

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Chris Gane, who has yet to win on the European Tour, reached 5 under par thanks to his four birdies in five holes on the back nine.
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PA Sport

Series:

Chris Gane heads the leaderboard by one shot after Thursday’s first round of the Madeira Islands Open on the European Tour.

The 36-year-old from England recorded a round of 67 to go a shot clear of early clubhouse leaders Francois Delamontagne and Lloyd Saltman.

2011 MADEIRA ISLANDS OPEN

The Madeira Islands Open is played on the rocky seaside Porto Santo Golf Club course, which was designed by Seve Ballesteros and opened in 1994.

Gane, who has yet to win on the European Tour, reached 5 under par on a course designed by the late Seve Ballesteros at the Porto Santo Golfe Club, thanks to his four birdies in five holes on the back nine.

A steady start saw him pick up two birdies before a bogey on the par-5 10th preceded a great close to his opening round, with birdies coming on the 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th holes.

Frenchman Delamontagne and Scotland's Saltman had earlier carded 4-under-par rounds of 68, with the former's round including two eye-catching eagles in tricky conditions.

The Paris-based 32-year-old is another still to win on the tour, but he was in early contention despite suffering a poor front nine as bogeys on the fourth, fifth and eighth holes overshadowed two birdies. Delamontagne's form improved drastically on the back nine and his eagles at the 10th and 14th were picked up with only one dropped shot between them, before he added a pair of birdies.

Saltman, 25, looked set for an unspectacular start to the tournament before he birdied three of the final four holes to join Delamontagne in the lead early in the afternoon.

Italians Federico Colombo and Emanuele Canonica both sat three shots off the lead and tied for fourth, alongside the best-placed Portuguese contender Jose-Filipe Lima. Colombo holed his second shot on the 393-yard 14th for an eagle.

Lima was the only Portuguese in the field to break par on a demanding course.