Spain's Sergio Garcia set about justifying his billing as pre-tournament favourite with an opening 69 in the Open de España on Thursday.
Fresh from his third place in The Players Championship at Sawgrass on Sunday, Garcia was expected to challenge for his national open for the second time, 12 years after his previous success.
And the World Number Seven claimed a share of the early clubhouse lead at PGA Catalunya Resort in Girona despite suffering from jet lag following his journey from Florida.
"I'm happy with my round," Garcia said. "I didn't have the greatest night last night and only slept for about four hours with the jet lag.
"I didn't feel extremely well with my swing but I managed to put it in play and give myself some good chances at birdies. The course is tough and the fairways are some of the tightest we have played all year.
"With the grass they have in this rough, as soon as you miss the fairway it's a guessing game."
Starting from the tenth, Garcia birdied the 12th and 13th before dropping a shot on the next, but the 34 year old bounced back in style with an eagle three on the par five 15th.
A bogey on the 18th took Garcia to the turn in 34 and he then left a birdie putt from ten feet inches short of the hole on the second, but the 11-time European Tour winner then holed from a similar distance on the par five third to get back to three under.
That was enough to share the clubhouse lead with American Peter Uihlein, Portugal's Jose-Filipe Lima and Belgian Thomas Pieters, Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen and Scot Richie Ramsay.
Uihlein looked set to lead on his own but bogeyed the ninth, his final hole, while Lima carded a flawless round with three birdies and no bogeys.
Derksen, who plans to retire at the end of the season, had recorded a hole in one on the fifth by holing out from 211 yards with a five iron.