Chris Gane led the English charge at the top of the leaderboard at the AGF-Allianz EurOpen de Lyon with a superb nine-under par 63 in the protracted first round.
The Londoner produced a flawless display on the greens to card seven birdies and an eagle three on the third hole in perfect conditions at the Golf du Gouverneur.
Gane equalled his previous lowest European Challenge Tour score, set at the Rolex Trophy in 2001, to overtake fellow Londoner Andrew Butterfield by one stroke at the top of the leaderboard in Monthieux, France.
The 34 year old, without a top 20 finish in 2008, was in one of the final groups to complete their first round, which was severely delayed by torrential rain that limitied play to just four-and-a-half hours on Thursday.
Flooding at the Golf du Gouverneur meant that Gane’s section of the draw did not hit a ball at all on the opening day and will play their second round immediately following on from their first.
Gane will be hoping to carry his momentum forward after a sensational opening round display, which he said was his best of the season so far.
He said: “That’s my lowest score of the year and I was really pleased with it. I putted really well today and got lucky with a couple of shots.
“I hit some really close shots and took my good luck and my chances. I think our side of the draw was quite lucky really as we knew early on yesterday that we were not playing at all so we relaxed and then practiced in the afternoon.
“The greens were then really good for us and some of the tees were brought forward because the landing areas were wet so the course was playing short, especially the par fives.
“It’s sometimes nice not to have a break between rounds as otherwise you mull things over. It’s going to be a long day but hopefully I can do the same again. I’ve been playing well lately but just not putting much. The course is giving us plenty of chances so hopefully if I can putt like that again I will take some of them.”
Butterfield put a nightmare start behind him, when he three-putted his first hole for a bogey, to card an eight under par 64.
He said: “When I three putted the first I thought it was going to be a long day. It was typical of the starts I have been making this year. The flooding yesterday meant the tees have been brought forward so the course is playing shorter and I’m quite straight off the tee.
“I haven’t been putting well this year but I did today. I was very pleased with the round. It’s a great start.
“Sometimes it is easier to just keep going and play 36 holes. The course and conditions will be pretty much the same. Sometimes when you go to sleep on a good round you don’t know what you will wake up to.”
The English contingent at the top of the leaderboard was completed by David Horsey and Gary Lockerbie who both carded seven under par rounds of 65 to join European trio Roope Kakko, Jan-Are Larsen and Bernd Wiesberger for a share of third place after round one.