Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello continued his excellent start to the season as the 20th Volvo China Open began in Shenzhen.
The two-time European Tour winner has had three top-five finishes in his six starts on The Race to Dubai this year, and turned in a two under par 34 at Genzon Golf Club.
A third birdie in succession at the first, Cabrera-Bello’s tenth, saw the 29 year old join a five-strong leading group on three under par.
Welshman Stuart Manley was again enjoying his golf in the Far East; the Hong Kong Open runner-up birdieing three of his first six holes to join Cabrera-Bello, England’s Simon Khan and home favourites Wu Ashun and Tian Yuan on three under.
Former BMW PGA Champion Khan had four birdies and a single bogey over his first 11 holes, while World Number 144 Ashun birdied three of his first eight holes after starting on the back nine.
Yuan, playing only his sixth European Tour event, turned in 35 before birdieing the first and second.
The leaders were on ahead of a group of six that included multiple European Tour winners Anders Hansen and Alvaro Quiros , as well as Scots Chris Doak and Craig Lee, England’s Seve Benson and Italy’s Andrea Pavan.
World Number Three Henrik Stenson, US PGA Champion Jason Dufner and defending champion Brett Rumford were among the afternoon starters.