So, the annual six-round marathon of Q School Final Stage is underway and, already, some very experienced players are conspicuous by their absence among the red figures that denote scores under par.  And some of them are missing par by a long way!

Although the 156-man field was split over two courses on day one, there were some major surprises: Phil Golding and Darren Fichardt – among the most hardened pros here – were propping up the field on 7 over; Jean-Francois Remesy, twice a French Open champion, is not much better on 5 over along with other ex-Tour champions Sven Struver and Andrew Oldcorn.

But it’s early days and even these nasty opening rounds can be turned around; or at least that’s what everyone at the back of the field is telling themselves.

At the other end of the scoring chart, Oscar Henningson of Sweden managed a massive 6 under to go into the lead and his total was particularly impressive because it was on the Green Course at PGA Catalunya which is regarded as the toughest of the two.

There was also decent news for Andrew Coltart who crashed out of Final Stage after just four rounds last year.  He had an up-and-down day, but came home with four birdies in the last 9 holes to settle for 1 under par.  Another ex-Ryder Cupper Joakim Haeggman went one better with 2 under while Stuart Manley of Wales (one of the form players at the end of the 2008 European Tour season) maintained his good scoring and shot 4 under.

The leaderboard after day one is misleading, however, because the Red Course is so much shorter and provided significantly easier golf.   Let’s see at the end of day two who is up and who is down before we make any predictions.

But, at least the sun was shining here in Girona and the tension has not yet built up to the excruciating levels that will occur on days five and six.  It’s an early night for everyone because by next Tuesday morning, there will be plenty of players, caddies, officials and, yes, even the media feeling well under par – and not in a golfing sense!

Click on the link for more on Ross’ book Golf On The Edge: Triumphs & Tragedies Of Q School