Robert-Jan Derksen posted the clubhouse lead midway through the first round at the UBS Hong Kong Open as the two time winner on The European Tour carded a seven under par 63.
Former Dutch Amateur champion Derksen, who last tasted victory at the 2005 Madeira Island Open, finished with a flourish at Hong Kong Golf Club with five birdies and the only bogey of his round over list last six holes to establish a one shot lead.
Defending champion Lin Wen-tang and David Dixon both posted bogey free opening rounds of six under par 64 to sit tied for second alongside France’s Gregory Bourdy.
South African duo Rory Sabbatini and Charl Schwartzel joined Chinese Taipei’s Lu Wei-chih, Australia’s Tony Carolan, Welshman Rhys Davies and Mark Foster in the clubhouse a further shot off the pace at five under.
“It was very good. I didn’t hit many bad shots, just one three putt at 16,” said 2003 Dubai Desert Classic champion Derksen.
“I hit almost all the greens and fairways to give myself chances and I putted beautifully.”
The Race to Dubai leader Lee Westwood and nearest challenger Rory McIlroy sit at four under in a group which also includes Mark O’Meara and China’s Liang Wen-chong.
Westwood leads McIlroy by a mere 52,321 euros at the top of the Order of Merit with Hong Kong representing the last event ahead of the season ending Dubai World Championship.
Last year’s runner-up McIlroy, making his fifth trip to Hong Kong, dropped just one shot in the middle of his back nine but was able to finish his first round as he started it with a birdie.
“I am happy with 66. I could have let it get away from me on the front nine, my back nine, but it is OK,” said the 20-year-old.
“I am in a good position but there is still a lot of golf left to play so it was nice to get off to a good start.”
Despite struggling to read the grain of the putting surfaces during his first competitive trip around the tight tree lined course, Westwood hit 17 out of 18 greens as the Portugal Masters champion shipped just two bogeys.
“It was good, the only green I missed was the last hole I played and it is a tough green at number nine. I had a lot of chances,” said 2000 Order of Merit winner Westwood.
“The greens are puzzling, I think I am at a disadvantage having only played the course once before. It is pretty obvious tee to green, but there is a big advantage having played a few tournaments around here so to start with a 66 I am delighted because the only two bogeys I made were three putts and I missed a lot of chances.”