Pablo Larrazábal produced a dazzling display on the first day of the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity with a round of 64.
However, the Spaniard’s clubhouse target – which would have been a course record but for placing being allowed on the fairways due to damp conditions – is set to come under threat from Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen.
Larrazábal raced to six under par at Diamond Country Club before a three hour and 40 minute delay for rain, which had caused large patches of surface water to appear on the course.
Having already carded four birdies and an eagle three at the long 13th by that stage there was a danger the interruption could upset the 29 year old’s rhythm, but instead he sunk an eight footer on the sixth and birdied the next as well.
“I hit the ball very well and gave myself a lot of chances - I made a few and I’m very happy to finally make some putts," said the former Open de France and BMW International Open winner. “I’ve been playing a lot like today but the putts didn’t drop and today they did so I’m very happy.
“The front nine I could have had one or two more,” added Larrazábal, who warned his best form was not too far away after he finished 45th in last week’s Open Championship.
“I’m playing the best long game of my golfing career - sometimes the putt drops, and sometimes not.
“But I did eight great strokes today and that’s why I made eight birdies. There were a few bad shots when the rain started, but I made great saves and then picked some shots up after the break.”
However, with the weather improving in the afternoon, a host of players were able to close in on the 29 year old, none more so than Olesen – who put in an impressive display at Lytham to finish ninth.
The Sicilian Open winner birdied seven of his first 14 holes before bad light ended play to move to within one of Larrazábal.
French veteran Thomas Levet and Dutchman Wil Besseling are a shot further back on six under, with four and five holes remaining respectively.
England’s Anthony Wall is fifth overnight on five under, with all of the afternoon starters set to finish their rounds in the morning.
It showed how good Larrazábal’s effort was that the next best clubhouse score was Oliver Wilson and Alastair Forsyth, both of whom signed for four under par 68s.
England’s Wilson has nine runner-up finishes on The European Tour, and the former Ryder Cup star is now targeting a first victory after losing his card at the end of last year.
“I’m playing well enough,” he said. “It’s just a case of trying to get it done.
“I’ve got one good round in, but I’m still four shots back so there’s a lot of work to do to close the gap, especially as Pablo’s been playing so well all season.
“I don’t expect him to go backwards, so I’ll have to make up some ground, but it’s still very early days at the moment – I’m more concerned about playing well and putting four good rounds together, because that’s been my downfall so far this season. I’ve put two or three good rounds together, but not managed to score well on all four days, and that’s mainly because my putter’s been a bit colder than I would’ve liked.
“If I can play solid for all four days here, then hopefully I won’t be too far away.”