Seville’s windy conditions hold no fear for Higgins

Waterville ace David Higgins felt right at home in producing his lowest first round score in nine months and be just one shot off the lead on the opening day of the Spanish Open at Seville.

Higgins was first out from the 10th tee and pared his opening nine holes before playing his inward half in three under for a 69 in bright but very windy conditions on the seaside Parador de El Saler course.

The Irishman is among seven players at three under par and trailing the leading trio of Chile’s Felipe Aguilar, Frenchman Gary Stal and Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen.

However Shane Lowry’s return to Europe, and in his first event since a top-10 finish in last fortnight’s Valero Texas Open, slumped under the weight of seven bogeys and a double bogey in shooting a six over par 78.

Higgins is competing in only his fifth Race to Dubai event this year but has made the cut in just one when he tied 17th in February’s Africa Open.

And while his Seville is also only the second occasion in 17 rounds he’s broken par in a Spanish Open, Higgins warmed to the windy Waterville-like course and conditions.

“I am very happy with a 69 and being out first, I thought the greens would be very soft but no way, I hit a couple of wedges into the first few holes and the ball just bounced up in the air,” said Higgins.

“In saying that I am very happy because I grew up playing in conditions and courses in Waterville and around Kerry so I feel right at home as long as the wind continues to blow.

“Driving is the key here and that’s the strong part of my game, so you then have to play those links-style shots and I am comfortable with those.

“I have been playing good and while my results haven’t shown that, apart from a good result in the Africa Open, I am happy with the way I am playing but patience is the big key out here.

“I started off the year really trying to push things and it didn’t work so I came here to Spain saying to myself ‘relax and just play your game’.

“But after a four-year absence from playing on the European Tour I feel like a rookie again, so I am fresh and I have not done all the travelling, and haven’t had the grind of the tour so I am ready for action.”

Former Spanish Open winner, Peter Lawrie posted a one under par 71 while Ballyclare’s Gareth Maybin struggled with a 74, with Damien McGrane a shot further back.

However it was a shock welcome to the big time for Co. Down’s Reeve Whitson.

Whitson, who captured last month’s Spanish Amateur title at La Manga, had just one birdie but seven bogeys and a sixth hole triple bogey in a nine-over par 81.

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