Ernie Els carded a four under par 68 on the opening morning of the BMW PGA Championship to be part of a four-way tie for the clubhouse lead.
The South African, charged with toughening up the West Course at Wentworth Club in recent years after winning seven Match Play titles at the venue, reached six under through 13 holes but bogeyed the 14th and 15th.
He was joined on four under by compatriot George Coetzee, Scotland’s Marc Warren, England’s Robert Rock and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger.
World Number One Rory McIlroy found himself six strokes behind after a two over par 74 which included going out of bounds "by an inch" at the long 12th.
McIlroy opened with a 76 last year - that put him 12 adrift of eventual winner Luke Donald - and said: "It was a bit of deja vu.
"Four bogeys in five holes around the turn was very disappointing. I feel like I'm playing pretty well and I've just got to go and shoot the scores."
Out on the course, Ireland's Peter Lawrie was off to a real flyer - an eagle at the fourth like McIlroy and birdies on the second, fifth and sixth to be five under and leader by one.
Defending champion Luke Donald was among the later starters as he tried to join Sir Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie as the only men to retain the trophy.
Lawrie remained five under to the turn, which he reached in just 30 strokes, and although Donald birdied three of the first six playing partner Justin Rose was going even better.
At four under after seven the World Number Ten was part of a ten-way tie for second, one behind Lawrie.