Alvaro Quiros continued his return to form in his “second home” to claim a share of the first round lead at the Portugal Masters.
The Spaniard won every year on The European Tour from 2006-2011, including this event in 2008, before being plagued by wrist problems that resulted in him undergoing surgery a year ago and missing five months of golf.
Top ten finishes in Ireland and Italy have hinted at Quiros returning to his former heights and one of the game’s longest hitters fought back from two early bogeys at Oceânico Victoria Golf Course to storm home in 29 and lead with Felipe Aguilar, Jamie Donaldson, David Lynn, Max Kieffer, Graeme Storm and Simon Thornton on six under par.
“It was a good fight after being two over after five holes,” said the 30 year old, who now lives in Portugal.
“I was putting beautifully and that was the key.
“This is my second home tournament and now that I’m living here I have to consider Portugal home. It’s always good, this event has been special since I’ve been coming here.”
Seve Trophy by Golf+ team-mates Donaldson and Lynn swiftly banished any disappointment from Great Britain & Ireland’s 15-13 loss to Continental Europe last Sunday, although the Welshman insists he came out full of confidence having taken two and half points.
Donaldson had reached seven under before three-putting the eighth, his penultimate hole, for his only bogey of the day, while Lynn picked up three shots in his last five holes.
“It was good playing under tough competitive conditions so it’s nice to play well and just bring it on to this week,” said Donaldson. “Those team events were fantastic; we had great fun all week.”
Lynn was laid low by flu last week, although the Englishman believes he may have uncovered an unusual remedy.
“I keep taking medication but a 65 cures any ailments,” he said. “If I don’t pull my finger out this week I’m not going to make Dubai (the DP World Tour Championship, for which only the top 60 qualify).”
Thornton won in Saint Omer earlier this season, and finds himself in the hunt three weeks after a closing 74 ended his chances at the Open D’Italia Lindt.
“I played lovely, it’s always nice to get off to a good start,” said the Irishman. “I hit it straight off the tee and had lots of chances. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been playing much more consistently.”
Kieffer has put himself in contention for the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award with a fine debut season, the highlight coming with a runner-up finish to Raphaël Jacquelin in Spain.
And the young German felt he might have pulled away from the congested leaderboard had he had a little more luck on the greens.
“It was a good round today,” he said. “It was good fun, I played really well.
“I hit so many shots close and there were a lot of good putts that didn’t go in. I’m surprised nobody shot really low.”
Two more of Lynn's Seve Trophy team-mates, England's Chris Wood and Scotland's Scott Jamieson, were among a nine-strong group one off the lead, along with former Ryder Cup star Søren Hansen – one of a number of players battling to climb into The Race to Dubai’s top 110 who retain their cards for 2014 after next week’s ISPS Handa Perth International.
Defending champion Shane Lowry, third in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at the end of September, had to settle for a one under par 70.