Gavins tied at top to spearhead Yorkshire challenge at Desert Springs

Sam Connor, co-leader of the Matchroom Sport Tour Championship alongside Oulton Hall's Daniel Gavins.
Sam Connor, co-leader of the Matchroom Sport Tour Championship alongside Oulton Hall's Daniel Gavins.
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OULTON Hall’s Daniel Gavins is in a four-way tie for the lead after the first round of the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Matchroom Sport Tour Championship at Desert Springs Resort in Spain.

Gavins had eight birdies in his five-under-par 67 to stand at the top of the leaderboard alongside Sam Connor (Alsager Golf & Country Club), Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell and Cheshire’s Haydn McCullen.

The Yorkshireman had four birdies in five holes on his back nine, but they sandwiched a double bogey six at the 15th. He also dropped a shot at the 11th.

Hornsea’s Steve Uzzell, who placed second at Moor Allerton in the Clipper Logistics Players Championship in August, shot 71.

He was three under par through 10 holes, but dropped shots at 11 and 18.

Malton & Norton’s Chris Halley is a shot further back on 72 after recovering from a torrid outward nine with a superb inward 32.

Halley, who lost at the sixth hole of a sudden-death play-off to McCullen for the Championship at Prince’s last month, made double-bogey at the first, birdied the sixth but then stumbled again at holes seven and eight.

He put an outward 40 to the back of his mind to come home in three-under 32 and is tied 32nd.

Two shots back of him is Middlesbrough’s Michael Skelton, who also endured two dropped shots at the opening hole.

The advantage he gained with birdies at three and four was halved with a bogey at eight.

His inward nine had birdies as impressive bookends, but he double-bogeyed 16 and dropped another shot at the next.

Doncaster’s Graeme Clark, who was fourth at Moor Allerton, had only two birdies in a 77 and had to sleep on a closing triple-bogey seven at the 18th.

Howley Hall’s Marcus Armitage - twice a winner this year and second in the Race to Desert Springs Order of Merit - struggled to a 78.

He had double-bogeys at both two and seven on the way out, and a birdie at 10 offered false promise as he double-bogeyed 14 and shipped a further shot at 15.

Rotherham’s David Booth had a nightmare finish as he carded 82.

He was four over through 16 holes then endured triple-bogey sevens at both 17 and 18.

The top five players on the EuroPro Order of Merit at the end of the 54-hole tournament, which finishes on Friday, will gain a Challenge Tour card.