- Englishman Ross McGowan holds the lead after the opening round of the Madrid Masters
- The 2009 Madrid winner carded an eight-under-par 64 for a one-stroke advantage
- Defending champion and world number one Luke Donald posted a 68 and is four off the pace
Englishman Ross McGowan carded his lowest round for three years to hold a one-stroke advantage after the first day of the Madrid Masters at the El Encin Golf Hote.
The 29-year-old, whose only European Tour triumph came in this tournament two years ago, posted an eight-under-par 64 to lead from Australian Brett Rumford, Italian Lorenzo Gagli and local favourite Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano -- who three-putted for a bogey on the 18th to deprive himself of a share of the lead.
McGowan (161), Fernandez-Castano (197) and Rumford (122) are all currently outside the top 115 in The Race to Dubai standings and in danger of having to go to qualifying school to get their Tour cards for next season.
Italian Edoardo Molinari fired a 66 to lie a further shot off the pace, with world number one and defending champion Luke Donald is among a group of eight players on 68 on a day of low scoring.
McGowan has been troubled by a wrist problem over the last couple of years, and his best finish in 2011 was 18th in the Africa Open.
"I think I like Madrid. That was a much better round than I've been putting together recently," McGowan told the official European Tour website.
"It's been a pretty tough year with a couple of injuries but it's been improving week to week and this week it really seems to have come together."
Meanwhile, Donald said: "I felt like I left a few shots out there. A couple of careless mistakes but a lot of solid golf in there too."
Elsewhere, Defending champion Y.E. Yang and American Rickie Fowler carded four-under-par rounds of 67 to share the lead after the opening round of the Korean Open in Cheonan.
World number three Rory McIlroy carded seven birdies but twice found the water on his way to a 68 and is tied for third place alongside Koreans Hong Soon-Sang and Lee Soo-Min.