Shiv Kapur fired six successive birdies to set the standard in the first round of the Czech Open 2010 but Peter Hanson is just one stroke back as the Swede tries to strengthen his Ryder Cup aspirations.
Kapur made his burst from the second to seventh holes to establish gain the early initiative at Prosper Golf Resort in Čeladná and, although he began the back nine with two bogeys in a row, birdies on the 16th and 18th helped him card a six under par 66 to set the pace.
“I was six under through my first seven holes so it would have been nice to have added some birdies on the back nine. But golfers are never happy,” said Kapur.
“The course is fantastic and the greens are absolutely brilliant. They are rolling beautifully in spite of the rain.
“I've never grown up on courses like this - I did on flat courses - but it suits my game as it is not a course that rewards long hitters.”
The 28 year old Indian, who lost in a play-off to Richie Ramsay in the South African Open Championship earlier this season, boasts a one shot cushion over Argentinean Tano Goya, whose 67 included six birdies and a bogey, and Ryder Cup hopeful Hanson.
The latter, who requested an invite from the promoters to play the tournament after a strong showing in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, is hoping to continue his good start as he looks to move into the automatic Ryder Cup places before the end of the qualification campaign next week.
“That is just what I needed to do - to get off to a good start this week,” he said. “I know why I'm here this week and what I have to do, so five under was a good start.
“I thought I played nicely all day and kept it in play off the tee and gave myself some chances with putts. At five under it felt pretty easy today.
“I asked the organisers here to help me out with a late invite and I managed to get one so I really have to thank the Czech open for that.
“I just want to try to give myself a chance of getting on that team.”
Goya continued his own affinity with Prosper Golf Resort after leading in the first round last year, while England’s Richard Bland shares third spot on four under par with Frenchman Julien Guerrier.
Five players were a shot further back: Australian Rick Kulacz’s 69 featured an eagle on the par five seventh, while José Manuel Lara, Scott Hend, Richard Finch and Clodomiro Carranza remain well placed after a largely profitable first day.
Ireland’s Peter Lawrie bogeyed the 18th to slip to two under par, one of 15 players who shot 70s. Simon Dyson was among them, like Hanson having shaken off jet lag to boost his own Ryder Cup hopes with four closing birdies.
On Sunday the Englishman shared 12th place in the US PGA Championship, then flew back from Chicago on Monday night, caught another flight to Prague and took a train to Ostrava.
Dyson is 16th in the race for a place in the European Ryder Cup Team with only one week to go, and is keen to build on a promising first round.
“I played the pro-am yesterday and was shattered, but I got a good night's sleep," he said.
“If I can get a couples of top threes or a win you never know. It was great to finish that way."
Dyson played with compatriot Ross McGowan, who at 11th in the standings needs a top four finish this week or in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles next week to book his Ryder Cup spot.
But McGowan - playing through the pain of a shoulder injury - started with a seven on the long 10th and, after climbing back to one under, finished with another double bogey and had to settle for a one over 73.
“I'm playing fairly well when my shoulder is not giving me grief," he said. "I’ll take a few painkillers and hope for the best.
“I’ve trapped a nerve and I have sharp pain on the downswing so I’m not sure where the ball is going to go.”
Spain's Miguel Angel Jiménez, eighth on the points table but not playing next week, posted a 71 on the course he co-designed, while 2008 Ryder Cup team-mate Oliver Wilson, still in with an outside chance of retaining his place, shot a level par 72.
Jiménez said: “It’s not much of an advantage knowing the course as people practice a couple of days and get to know it.
“The course is very true and you can see everything. You need to hit it straight to be able to hit the pins as the greens are very fast. That is the key.”