A stunning start of five consecutive birdies from the first hole helped give Alessandro Tadini the lead in the first round of The Princess by Schüco in Sweden.
The Italian signed for a six under par 66 to lead by one shot from South African Branden Grace at PGA of Sweden National in Malmö, while five players are a further shot back at four under.
Frenchman Edouard Dubois, who is in search of his third win in a month following victories in the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda and the Scottish Hydro Challenge, is among that group two shots off the lead.
Tadini, whose last of three Challenge Tour victories came last season, was delighted with the way he played.
“I started in fifth gear with those five birdies in a row,” said the 37 year old. “That’s the second time in my life I’ve done that. After that it was easy and I played very well, with a lot of confidence. I putted very well today and I was very accurate with my irons.
“I played the last four holes brilliantly because there was a strong wind against us. I just kept it simple, and if you play good shots and hit it where you want to it seems easy.
“The difference today was the way I started. They were all good birdies and came from hitting my approach close. The first was a bunker shot to within gimme length, the second was a two-metre putt, the third from one metre, the fourth – a very long par three – was a putt from three metres, and the fifth was about a metre and a half.
“I hope I can continue this form all week. Normally if I play that well I don’t putt so well. Today it was different and I hope I can keep it up.”
Grace was one under at the turn after three birdies and two bogeys, but his round came to life with an eagle at the par five 11th.
He said: “We definitely had the bad side of the draw today as it got pretty windy this afternoon. But it was great – I hit the ball really well. I missed so many putts out there though, so I could’ve gone even lower than 67.
“I’m happy with that start though, especially as this week is the first time I’ve played the course. It’s an awesome course, in great condition and the greens are very good. I knew I had to play it a certain way in this wind as it’s really tough out there, and fortunately it worked.
“There are a lot of shorter holes which you can get a lot of birdies out of, but there are also a lot of tricky holes which you just need to take the par and keep on going.
“Sweden is awesome. I’m staying in the city, in Malmö, and it’s fantastic. It’s my second time in Sweden and it’s one of my favourite places in the world. Everything is great here.”
Dubois, who enjoyed the sunny, warm morning conditions before the weather turned cold and windy in the afternoon, is flying high after his recent successes on the Challenge Tour.
“I putted very well today,” said the 22 year old, who teed off from the tenth. “I made two mistakes, at the 17th when I went in the water and on the 18th, but apart from that it was very good. I played the front nine perfectly.
“I think this afternoon will be tougher because the wind is getting up. We had 12 or 13 holes without any wind which helped a lot.
“I am feeling so confident at the moment after two wins in three weeks. It’s amazing. I’m enjoying my golf so much and feel like I can win every time.”
The Princess is a tournament created by six-time European Tour champion Henrik Stenson, winner of the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2000, who named it after his daughter, Lisa. Stenson wanted to ensure there remained a Challenge Tour event in Sweden, giving up and coming players the chances he had.