Reuters - World Number Ten Luke Donald, making only his second appearance at the BMW Championship - The Players' Flagship, moved into a four way tie for the lead when he shot a 67 at Wentworth Club. Donald, who was born at nearby High Wycombe, crammed five birdies in a flawless first round to join fellow Englishmen Paul Casey and Nick Dougherty and South African Andrew McLardy on five under par.
Holder Angel Cabrera of Argentina, Ireland's Peter Lawrie, England's David Howell and Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin shared fifth place while World Number Six Ernie Els, who masterminded the remodelling of the West Course, was among a host of players on 69.
Casey finished his round with a real flourish, birdying the par five 17th and eagling the par five last.
Dougherty raced to the top of the leaderboard thanks to a spectacular back nine of five under 32 containing five birdies.
McLardy enjoyed a slice of good fortune when he overhit his 40 foot birdie putt at the 16th and watched it jump into the air before disappearing into the cup.
"I hit a putt that had way too much speed on it," the 32 year old South African said.
"That could have been a two-shot swing if I had rolled it eight feet by, so that was good luck."
The highlight of Cabrera's round was a run of three successive birdies from the tenth.
Cabrera, eighth in last month's Masters Tournament at Augusta National, said the West Course played much the same as it had 12 months ago.
"It didn't feel very much different because I was hitting the ball well today," said the 36 year old.
"I couldn't really feel the difference. I was able to keep out of trouble so that was good."
Cabrera's putter sparkled as he rammed in efforts of 25, 15, 12, nine and eight feet for his five birdies.
Due to the recent heavy rainfall, preferred lies are being used in the first two rounds. The third, sixth and 18th have also been temporarily shortened.
Els was happy with his revamped layout after finishing two shots off the lead.
"It was a good test but if you played properly today, you'd shoot under par," said the South African, who has a house on the Wentworth estate.
"The old course, conditions like these, I think you would have seen a 64. Today was your scoring opportunity."