Ian Poulter's one stroke clubhouse lead at the Barclays Singapore Open remained unchallenged after a rain delay of over three hours left half the field unable to complete their first rounds.
Playing for the first time in six weeks, Poulter dropped just one shot to set the clubhouse mark at five under par following a first round 66 on the testing Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club.
But the delay saw Ernie Els and qualifier Chan Yih-shin of Chinese Taipei remain his nearest challengers at four under after posting first rounds of 67.
Poulter, who was forced to withdraw from the event last year after being unable to replace a driver which was stolen the previous week in Shanghai, reached the turn in a solid two under 33.
And after carding his solitary bogey when he missed the green at the first, his tenth hole of the day, before two putting following a heavy chip from the rough, Poulter recovered and picked up three birdies over his last six holes.
“There were no mistakes on the back nine, my front nine. I then bogeyed the first and then managed to start hitting some shots to give myself some chances with a few holes to play,” said Poulter.
“It's nice be able to come out fresh. To take some time off in the later part of the year, do some good work and come out with some good intentions for the next five or six weeks. As many balls as you hit on the range, you don't know what it will be like - that is just my fourth round of golf in seven weeks.”
Els was pleased with his first round, but will consider a putter change for the second round after bringing two to Singapore.
“It is a good start to the tournament. I felt like I was really in control of my swing today and I hit the ball really nicely. Obviously I would have liked to make some more putts,” he said.
“I left a lot of puts out there I feel - that’s just the way it has been. I am hitting putts on line but they are not going in, it is a bit of a lull with the putter.”
Chan admitted: “It's a surreal feeling to be leading the big names right now but there are three more days to go and the ball is round. I'll just keep trying to do my best.”
Dane Anders Hansen, Japan's Kodai Ichihara and Frenchman Thomas Levet were tied for fourth at three under, with World Number Two Phil Mickelson and Denmark's Søren Kjeldsen in a group tied for seventh a shot further back.
“I played well today and hit a lot of good shots. The course is in wonderful condition but it is also very difficult with the rough being so thick. The fairways are immaculate and we could lift and clean the ball today which helped getting perfect lies,” said Mickelson.
“I putted well today and as the week goes on I think I will get better and better as I get accustomed to the speed of the greens and the grass as well as just getting into the competition aspect of it."
Of the afternoon starters still on the course when darkness brought an end to the day's play just before 7pm local time, China's Liang Wen-chong and England’s Ross McGowan made the most impact on the leaderboard after progressing to two under par.