Frenchman Christian Cevaer beat the Beijing bunkers to shoot a six under par 66 and grab the early lead in the first round of the Volvo China Open at a sunny Honghua International Golf Club.
Cevaer held a one stroke lead over Englishmen Simon Dyson, Ross Fisher and Simon Wakefield, who were tied for second with Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Swede Peter Hanson at the $1.8 million event, co-sanctioned by The European Tour and the Asian Tour.
Cevaer picked up a stroke by holing a bunker shot from 30 feet at the third and never looked back, sinking five further birdies in a blemish-free round.
"One of the keys for me today was my fine bunker play because I got it up and down four times. I felt really comfortable with the bunkers," said the 36 year old, who is looking for his second career Tour victory this week.
"It's a beautiful course. I am not a long hitter but have posted a good score so it is more about accurate iron play and finding the right distances."
Rookie Fisher made his European Tour debut at November's Volvo China Open, and led going at the end of the third round before finishing in a tie for fourth.
"There's a long way to go but I've put myself in a good place," the 25 year old said after his 67.
Dyson, a winner of the China Open in 2000 before it was co-sanctioned, said getting his maiden European Tour victory at the Enjoy Jakarta HSBC Indonesia Open in Jakarta last month had been a huge boost.
"I've never felt this kind of confidence," he said after hitting six birdies with a single bogey at the 18th.
Hanson, who started at the tenth, bogeyed his first two holes but recovered to hit eight birdies, including three in row from his fifth hole, with a single further dropped shot.
"It was a slow start but I managed to turn it around," said the Swede. "I think I stayed patient."
Defending champion Paul Casey, who won the title just 137 days ago in Shenzhen, and Swede Henrik Stenson, the highest ranked player in the field at 13th in the world, were late starters. Germany's Alex Cejka withdrew from the tournament before the start of the first round because of a back injury.
|1||SINGH, Jeev Milkha||IND||18||-10|