Johan Carlsson (Getty Images)
Johan Carlsson opened up a one-shot lead on day one of the BMW PGA Championship but had a host of the European Tour's biggest names chasing him down at Wentworth Club.
It was a stunning first ever day of the Rolex Series, with glorious sunshine and a large crowd watching the players battle it out for a share of the seven million dollar prize fund.
Carlsson came out on top with a six under par 66 but that gave him just a slender lead over Francesco Molinari, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Jamieson.
Open champion Henrik Stenson was then in a group of nine players at four under that also included World Number 13 Alex Noren, Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters and six-time winner Branden Grace.
Carlsson could have been even further ahead had he taken advantage of some good chances on the home straight but he was still delighted with his day's work after a season that has seen him miss six cuts in ten events so far.
"Over the year, I've been working quite hard and I feel like I'm working hard on my swing and everything," he said.
"Obviously this week is a big week and I've always had that goal in mind that this is going to be a tournament to get it around no matter what, play with what you have and that's what I did.
"I didn't try to hit any super fancy shots, I just played with what I had and I think that was the key to success."
A hat-trick of birdies from the third handed Carlsson momentum and when he birdied the seventh and ninth he had made the turn in 30.
A bogey on the tenth could have stalled his momentum but he hit back wiith birdies on the 11th and 12th before hitting the front with a gain on the 15th. The big Swede then had a tap-in for birdie on the 16th but missed before squandering another opportunity on the next and dropping a shot on the last.
Scotsman Jamieson was bogey-free from the first group of the day, making gains on the fourth, fifth, tenth, 13th and 16th.
Aphibarnrat turned in 31 with birdies on the second, fourth, sixth and seventh. Further gains on the 12th and 13th moved the Thai to six under but he bogeyed the next and missed a ten-footer on the last to reclaim the solo lead.
Italian Molinari overcame an opening dropped shot with gains on the fourth and eighth but really came to life on the back nine, birdieing the 12th, adding a lengthy effort on the 13th, and finishing birdie-birdie.
Grace made four birdies on the front nine, including a brilliant chip-in on the fifth, and when the South African eagled the par five 12th he shared top spot before bogeying the 13th and 16th.
Noren had a brilliant hole-out of his own from a bunker on the 15th to go with five other birdies and two bogeys, while fellow Swede Stenson parred his first ten holes before picking up four birdies.
Pieters had a chance to share the lead but the Belgian put his third in the water on the last to finish in the group at four under alongside Nino Bertasio, Bradley Dredge, Ross Fisher, Shane Lowry and Graeme Storm, a shot ahead of Dean Burmester, Eduardo de la Riva, Li Haotong, Tyrrell Hatton, Richie Ramsay and Richard Sterne.