Record round for McGowan

England's Ross McGowan equalled the lowest score of his European Tour career today to lead the Estoril Portuguese Open after the opening round.

Back at the Oitavos Dunes course where he was the half-way pacesetter in only his second Tour event two years ago, the 26-year-old from Surrey produced a superb seven-under-par 64 in windy conditions.

It put him two ahead of Ireland's Michael Hoey - and 11 in front of 55-year-old Sam Torrance, who could not recover from a triple-bogey eight on his first hole as he extended his record number of Tour events to 705.

Asked where he would like to be in four or five years' time, McGowan, English amateur champion in 2006, said: "Obviously I'd like to be number one in the world, but it is how you get there - not all of us are as gifted as Tiger (Woods)."

He is currently ranked 163 places behind Woods, a drop of nearly 80 places on February last year, but he did nearly land his first Tour title two months ago.

McGowan led the Johnnie Walker Championship in Perth by two with five to play but, while he bogeyed the 14th and 16th, 18-year-old New Zealand amateur Danny Lee birdied four of the last six to win by one and become the youngest ever champion on the circuit.

"I felt a little hard done by. I didn't really make any mistakes, but sometimes you don't get the breaks," McGowan continued.

Because Lee was unable to accept the £215,000 (€235,218) first prize, McGowan's share of second earned him £145,000 (€158,669) and his "little present" to himself was an Aston Martin.

"It's quite nippy and a lot of fun but it's more about winning than the money. You want to be as good as you can be," he added.

McGowan birdied three of his first four holes, was five-under with two to play and then holed from 15 feet at the sixth and two-putted the long seventh.

Hoey, the former British amateur champion, is also seeking his maiden Tour win having led after 36 holes in Madeira only a fortnight ago.

"I picked up a bit of a cold there and didn't really feel with it last week, so I went home and I feel strong again now," he said. "Those decisions are almost more important than the ones you make with your game."

The highlight of his round was an eagle three on the downwind 573-yard 16th, where he hit a drive and six-iron to 30 feet.

Yorkshireman Simon Dyson is battling with a neck problem but still managed a 67.

"Every drive I went for I blocked about 40 yards right," he said. "It's not easing up at all and I'm going to see somebody next week."

His score was matched by Scot Alastair Forsyth, who, along with ex-Ryder Cup star David Howell, was beaten in a play-off by Frenchman Gregory Bourdy last year, and by Spaniard Carlos Del Moral.

Howell is well down the field after a 73 but Bourdy birdied five of the last seven for a 69.

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