England's Lee Slattery established a one shot clubhouse lead during the first round of the ISPS Handa Wales Open at a windy Celtic Manor Resort.
The 33 year old, who qualified for the US Open Championship at Walton Heath on Monday, shot a four under par 67.
That gave Slattery, who won his maiden European Tour title in Madrid last October, an early one stroke clubhouse lead over German Marcel Siem.
“It was very difficult out there," said Slattery. "The wind was strong, I think stronger than anticipated. Just getting off to a good start today, two birdies in the first two holes, made all the difference. It just meant I had something to go for afterwards.”
On his forthcoming trip to America for the US Open, he added: "I'm really looking forward to San Francisco. It'll be my first tournament in America and I'm fixing up trips to the baseball and Alcatraz."
Slattery reached five under before running up a bogey six at the long ninth - his 17th - and at that point was one behind Siem.
However, the in-form Siem then took six on the same hole, pitching into a greenside bunker, and on the 210-yard tenth he came up short which led to another bogey for the man who two years ago led by three going into the final round only for his title challenge to falter.
Siem, with five top-12 finishes under his belt already this season, said: “I’ve been pretty consistent and I played well last week.
“My coach came after Walton Heath yesterday and did a little bit of work, and I took a lot of confidence from that. It's very, very steady at the moment.”
As the afternoon wave of players got underway New Zealand’s Michael Campbell made a good start to move into a share of third place.
The former US Open Champion, plagued by injuries in recent years and having made only one cut in eight starts this season, raced to two under par with birdies at the 11th and 15th.
He was alongside Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Sweden’s Joel Sjöholm, who both signed for 69.
The later starters included four players from the 2010 European Ryder Cup side who won at this venue - England's Ross Fisher, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez and Italian brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari.