José Manuel Lara shot a dazzling 65 to ensure a fierce pace was set in the first round of the Open de España in Girona.
The local favourite gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about by returning a seven under par round - only one outside the PGA Golf Catalunya record - to lead along with Scot Callum Macaulay by one shot from England's Chris Wood, the 21 year old who as an amateur finished fifth in The Open Championship last summer, and Swede Jarmo Sandelin.
Lara, whose only European Tour victory came in Hong Kong in 2006, took twice as many strokes as colourful American John Daly on the seventh but his bogey six there was more than made up for with no fewer than eight birdies.
Macaulay had eight birdies as he continued to impress six months after helping Scotland win the world amateur team title in Australia.
Wood was returning to the course where he finished fifth in The European Tour Qualifying School last November and enjoyed himself again.
His round included a 20 foot eagle putt at the seventh, and he said: "I only got back from Korea on Monday and, because I knew the course, it was a good opportunity to rest.
"I didn't play a full practice round but made only one mistake."
That came on the 449 yard 18th, his ninth, where a seven iron plugged in the greenside bunker and he double bogeyed.
Daly had warned he was rusty and was content enough with his first round back, a two under 70.
"I hit it pretty good but didn't make a lot of putts," said the 43 year old American.
"I'm not setting any goals at all yet. Just let it happen and try and work on the things Rick (coach Rick Smith) has me working on.
"If I keep doing it and doing it something good will happen."
Another former The Open Championship winner, Scot Paul Lawrie, was five under with one to go but bogeyed it to fall into the group on four under.
Former The Ryder Cup star Sandelin shot his lowest round of the year - only a few days after being involved in a dramatic fire rescue act.
The 41 year old Swede smelt burning in a flat in the centre of Stockholm, burst in and was able to help an elderly lady out, but her husband died.
Sandelin returned to The European Tour with a six under par 66 which left him just off the lead but, clearly emotional, he asked reporters if he could wait another 24 hours before discussing his own narrow escape.