Doherty edges ahead in Spain

Scotland's Jack Doherty claimed the clubhouse lead on a weather-affected first day of the inaugural NH Collection Open at La Reserva de Sotogrande.

After play had been delayed by two hours and 40 minutes because of heavy rain, Doherty overcame strong winds to card a three-under-par 69 to lead by one from Welshman Bradley Dredge and a trio of players who have still to complete their rounds.

Doherty came through the European Tour qualifying school in November at the 12th attempt, but has only made one cut so far this season, finishing joint 63rd in the Tshwane Open.

The 31-year-old carded six birdies and three bogeys to top the leaderboard, with two-time Tour winner Dredge shooting three birdies and just one bogey.

"It was a tough day," Doherty said. "We had a 20-yard wind on the front nine and almost 30 yards on the back nine, which is a lot. The ball is going a long way downwind and it's hardly going anywhere into the wind, but I practice on the west coast of Scotland which is normally quite windy, so I know how to play it and I just stuck to my game plan.

Good conditions

"The course is lovely, it's my first time here and I enjoyed it. I like the way it sets up and it's in good condition. Considering we had lots of rain yesterday and last night, the course has held up nicely and the greens are fast, especially downwind.

"This is my first year on the main Tour and my main target is to keep my card for next year as I am limited in my starts. Every week is big, but a big week here would be huge."

Welshman Rhys Davies, South African Tjaart Van Der Walt and Sweden's Joakim Lagergren share second place with Dredge.

However, that trio didn't manage to finish, playing just 11, eight and seven holes respectively.

Spain's Alejandro Canizares, who is looking for back-to-back wins following his victory in Morocco last month, did complete his round, shooting an opening 72 containing three birdies, one bogey and a double bogey.