MacIntyre finished third in the Cyprus Open at the same venue last week following rounds of 68, 67, 66 and 65 and added another six-under-par 65 on Thursday to lead by a shot from seven players.

Former Ryder Cup winner Jamie Donaldson, Thomas Detry, Sami Valimaki, Joakim Lagergren, Ashun Wu, Rikard Karlberg and Romain Langasque all shot 66, with Cyprus Open winner Callum Shinkwin and runner-up Kalle Samooja two strokes further back.

“I'm delighted. Again I played great golf … The course suits my eye.” – Robert MacIntyre

The Cyprus Showdown has a 105-man field for the first two rounds of stroke play as normal, with the top 32 players and ties advancing to Saturday's play with their scores reset.

The Australian challenge to make it to the weekend has started slowly with Maverick Antcliff leading the way in equal 42nd place after a one-under-par 70 while Jason Scrivener was two strokes further back in joint 81st position.

MacIntyre, who used a new set of irons to great effect to card six birdies and no bogeys, said: "I'm delighted. Again I played great golf.

"A few mishits off the tee, but it's one of those golf courses where I can open my shoulders a little bit more and give it a little bit extra. The course suits my eye."