MADRID, April 12 (Reuters) - Scotland’s Marc Warren finished with five birdies in the last seven holes to lead the Spanish Open by one shot on six-under par ahead of local favourite Jon Rahm and Spanish amateur Victor Pastor after the first round on Thursday.
Julien Guerrier of France, Englishman Jonathan Thomson Australian Jason Norris, Austrian Matthias Schwab and South African Erik van Rooyen were also one shot back.
England’s Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston was on four-under in his bid to retain the title, alongside Spaniard Pedro Oriol, Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and South African Richard Sterne.
Basque Country native Rahm is the main attraction at the tournament after coming fourth at the Masters last week. He is looking to make amends for his late slip up in Augusta, when he blew his lead by finding the water on the 15th on the final day.
Rahm had a birdie at the 13th before a bogey at the next hole but signed off on a high with an eagle at the 18th, joining compatriot Pastor on five-under.
"To be honest, I played a lot better than I expected, especially off the tee," Rahm told the European Tour website www.europeantour.com.
“My driver was really good today - the driver alone set up two birdies, on 13 and on seven. Things like that are obviously a bonus. Too bad I couldn’t make a couple of putts but I guess it’s happening to everyone, the greens are not easy to read.”
Pastor is ranked 113th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and was making his first appearance on the European Tour, but he flew up the leaderboard with an eagle at 10th the before making birdies at the 13th and 18th.
“It is a good start in a great tournament,” Pastor said. “As an amateur it is a bit distressing because you don’t play your course or tournament but it feels good. My golf was good so I’m really happy.”
The Spanish Open was one of the most prestigious tournaments on the European Tour but took a one year sabbatical last year and switched courses from Valderrama in Andalusia to the Centro Nacional de Golf in Madrid. (Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)