Welshman Jamie Donaldson left a world-class field trailing in his wake with a brilliant course-record 62 at the BMW Masters in Shanghai.
Donaldson, whose victory at the Irish Open in July was his first in 255 European Tour events, birdied ten of the first 16 holes at Lake Malaren and then saw his chip to the short 17th lip out of the hole.
After paring the 471 yard last the 37 year old held a four stroke lead over Ryder Cup stars Francesco Molinari and Peter Hanson.
Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal, without a top ten finish since January, World Number One Rory McIlroy and his fellow Northern Irishman Michael Hoey all signed for 67s to share fourth on five under par.
McIlroy was back on the course where he won the Shanghai Masters a year ago and a closing birdie ensured he got the better of his nearest Race to Dubai challengers.
Justin Rose was round in a four under 68, while third-placed Branden Grace shot a two under 70.
Luke Donald and Lee Westwood were also amongst those on two under.
However, the day belonged to Donaldson, who said: "It was one of those rounds where you hit every shot where you want to and every putt where you want to.
“I played great from the word go, hit a lot of fairways and put myself in really strong positions and capitalised when I had putts. I didn't have many long putts, just played really well, and one of those days where everything went for me. It's been a really good day.
"The course suits me. The fairways are quite generous and if you miss the bunkers you can play aggressive golf.
"It's an awesome field, so I need to keep playing like that to stay ahead of them. The strength and depth across The European Tour nowadays seems to be very strong - it's just particularly strong this week.
“I'm just going out there trying to play my own game and whoever I play with, I'm just trying to do what I do and control what I can control. I've just got to play well for the next three days to finish on top.”
McIlroy can be leapfrogged by Rose or Grace this week, but was delighted to steal a march on the pair after an impressive nine iron approach to the last.
“Definitely a nice way to finish,” he said. “I hit probably my best drive and my best iron shot of the day into the last, so always nice to finish like that.”
Olazábal had five birdies in his bogey-free round and was delighted to return to form after the stresses and strains of Ryder Cup Captaincy.
“It’s great to shoot a low round,” he said. “I hit a lot of good iron shots and had quite a few birdie chances; that’s why I managed to score well. Tomorrow and the next few days if I want to score well I will have to improve the driving.”