Dereham’s Andrew Marshall aiming to stay ahead of pack before golf’s European Tour re-shuffle

Dereham's Andrew Marshall is eager to stay ahead of the pack before an imminent category re-shuffle on the European Tour.

The 38-year-old enjoyed some encouraging results earlier this year and is hoping a good performance in the Madeira Islands Open this week will fire him high enough up the Race to Dubai order of merit ahead of a re-rank which could see his category improve and therefore open the door to more starts on the main Tour.

Marshall certainly went into the tournament full of confidence having won a TPtourseries event at Hayling Island & Goodwood Golf Club following rounds of 64 and 71.

'My main concern is the European Tour and the all important re-rank which means the guys from Qualifying School are re-shuffled according to money earned,' said Marshall, who shot a one under par round of 71 on the first day.

'They only re-rank the top 20 money winners from Q School and I'm just inside that mark at the moment but I really need to move up the order of merit which will give me more starts after the PGA at Wentworth at the end of May,' said Marshall.

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The Santo de Serra course, which hosts this week's event, is one Marshall knows well, having made his debut Tour there back in 2001.

'It's a course that isn't so long so I feel it suits my game quite well,' said Marshall, who is backed by the Norwich Family Golf Centre based at Easton. 'Chipping and wedge game will play a prominent part in scoring low. 'The course is much firmer as we're now here in May and not April like years before. 'The greens are running true so if the nice weather holds you could see some low scoring this week,' he added.

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Marshall's steady start left him in a tie for 59th position and well placed to make the halfway cut.

Meanwhile Former Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson, nine times a runner-up on the European Tour without ever winning, has given himself another chance to change that. With all the circuit's current stars over in America, Wilson shot a six-under-par 66 to be in joint second place after the opening round.

Spaniard Alvaro Velasco leads after a 64 containing seven birdies in the last 12 holes. Among those alongside Wilson is compatriot Tommy Fleetwood and Swedes Joakim Lagergren and Magnus Carlsson.

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