McGowan makes early move in Spain

    Ross McGowan plays a shot during the first round at the Club de Campo del Mediterraneo.

    Story highlights

    • Ross McGowan claims two-shot lead after opening round of Castello Masters
    • English golfer cards seven-under-par 64 to set the early pace in Spain
    • Spain's Sergio Garcia is in a group of seven players tied for fourth on 67
    • Teenage defending champion Matteo Manassero of Italy tied for 17th after a 69
    English golfer Ross McGowan continued his late-season bid to qualify for the European Tour's lucrative Dubai World Championship by claiming the first-round lead at the Castello Masters on Thursday.
    The 29-year-old, who is 163rd in the Race To Dubai standings, shot an opening 64 for the second Spanish tournament in a row.
    He faded to finish 42nd at the Madrid Masters two weeks ago after setting the early pace, and then missed the cut in Portugal, but has given himself another chance of earning his second tour title after taking a two-shot lead from compatriot Richard McEvoy and Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti.
    McGowan, who was runner-up at the inaugural Dubai showpiece in 2009 before a wrist injury halted his progress, carded five birdies and an eagle two at the 17th in a flawless seven-under-par round.
    "It's nice to be playing well again and up in contention," he said.
    "I'm not really thinking about the Race to Dubai at the moment. I'm just trying to play each shot at a time and put up a good result at the end of the week."
    The top 60 players will qualify for Dubai, and McGowan needs the 333,330 euros ($458,000) on offer for the winner at Club de Campo del Mediterraneo -- having earned just 98,458 euros ($135,000) this season.
    Spain's Sergio Garcia was in a group of seven players tied for fourth on 67, while defending champion Matteo Manassero was tied for 17th after a 69.
    The 18-year-old Italian, who won his maiden title here before being named rookie of the year, birdied four holes in a row from the 10th before a double bogey at 15 slowed his charge.