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Graeme Clark is closing in on the top spot in the Order of Merit after a fine opening day in the latest event on the PGA EuroPro Tour.
Clark shot a round of 65 (-5) to lead the way at The Rustyâ€™s Travel Classic at Longhirst Hall in Northumberland, the fourth competition in the EuroPro Tour season.
He is currently fourth in the Order of Merit after finishing second at Burhill in Surrey but will collect another Â£10,000 if he holds on to his lead for another two rounds.
Clark (Doncaster) has enjoyed great success on the Tour as he won more money than anyone else in 2007 and last won an event in August 2009.
He has a one-shot lead over Graham Powell (Banstead Downs, Surrey), who ended his round well with birdies at his last two holes.
Powell is one shot ahead of three players, Finlandâ€™s Max Brackley, James Need and Toby Burden (Hayling, Hampshire) who all shot rounds of 67 (-3).
Need is hoping this will be a breakthrough event as he has only made the cut in one of three events this season and at only two of ten competitions last season.
But two fine rounds on Thursday and Friday will catapult him up the Order of Merit, where a top five finish at the end of the campaign would propel him on to the Challenge Tour.
A host of players are on -2, including Dan Seymour (Newbury Golf Centre, Berkshire), Jamie Howarth (De Vere Mottram Hall, Cheshire), Tim Rice (Limerick, Ireland), Lee Harper (Archerfield Links, East Lothian) and Zane Scotland (Princes, Kent).
Chris Hanson (Woodsome Hall, Huddersfield) won last week at Bovey Castle in Devon and had a mixed first day as birdies at the first, third, seventh and 18th were countered by bogeys at the fifth, eighth, 10th and 17th.
â€œLevel par today in the first round,â€ said Hanson. â€œI played pretty steady and my focus was very good.â€
Local player Karl Hepple, who is aiming to become the second amateur to win on the EuroPro tour after James Robinson did so in 2010, was one of a number of players on -1 after the opening round.
All the action from Longhirst Hall will be filmed and Matchroom sport will produce a two-hour highlights package, which will be broadcast on Sky Sports on Wednesday, July 6.