SSP Chawrasia fired an opening 65 in tough conditions to take the first-round lead at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
The 2018 Race to Dubai got under way at Hong Kong Golf Club in gusty winds with scoring proving very tough for the first wave of players.
The conditions eased in the afternoon but nobody could catch Indian Chawrasia, whose five under par effort gave him a one-shot lead heading into Friday.
England's Matthew Fitzpatrick continued his recent good form as he also mastered the early winds to sit at four under alongside another Indian in Shubhankar Sharma.
Belgium's Thomas Detry, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Swede Marcus Kinhult, South African Keith Horne, Filipino Angelo Que, Thai Poom Saksansin and American Micah Lauren Shin were then at three under.
Chawrasia finished 109th in the Rankings last season but has four European Tour wins to his name while Ftitzpatrick has secured seven consecutive top 15 finishes since winning the Omega European Masters in September.
"I'm playing well today," said Chawrasia. "I'm hitting well and some putts well.
"Very tough conditions today. I'm very happy with my five under.
"I've been playing many years here and I've not finished well. So it's a good chance this year and hopefully I'll finish good this year. I'll try my best."
Road to Oman winner Tapio Pulkkanen had the honour of hitting the first tee-shot of the season but it was Chawrasia who got off to a quick start after teeing off on the 11th.
The two-time reigning Hero Indian Open champion birdied the 11th, 13th, 16th and 18th and when he put his approach at the par five third to four feet, he was five under.
It's a good chance this year and hopefully I'll finish good this year. I'll try my best - SSP Chawrasia
Fitzpatrick birdied the 13th and 16th but dropped a shot on the first before reeling off a hat-trick of gains from the next.
That gave him a share of the lead when Chawrasia made a first bogey of the day on the fifth and while Fitzpatrick dropped a shot on the sixth, he picked it straight back up after a nice approach to the seventh.
Chawrasia then holed a 15-footer on the ninth to jump back into top spot on his own.
Sharma started with a bogey on the 11th but picked up shots on the 12th, 13th and 18th before making a bogey on the first. Further gains on the third, seventh and tenth then moved him within a shot of the lead.
A big finish from Detry moved him two off the lead as after turning in level par he made birdies on the 13th and 15th before hitting a stunning approach into the last.
Donaldson looked like he was going to challenge for the lead when he picked up shots on the second, fifth, sixth and 13th but made back-to-back bogeys from the 15th before regaining a stroke on the next.
Challenge Tour graduate Kinhult made birdies on the 11th, 13th, 14th, 17th and first with a single bogey on the 12th as he also looked set to challenge for the overnight lead. Back-to-back bogeys on the eighth and ninth scuppered those chances but he bounced back well with a closing gain.
A tie for third here last season laid the foundations for Tommy Fleetwood to top the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex and he was in the group at two under after a 68.
Fleetwood was playing alongside countryman Fitzpatrick and when he birdied the 11th, first and fourth, he was making good progress. Bogeys on the sixth and ninth slowed him down but he birdied the tenth to stay within touching distance.
Justin Rose finished second to Fleetwood in the season-long Rankings and he bogeyed the last to also sign for a 68 alongside Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, China's Li Haotong, Australian Wade Ormsby, American Julian Suri, Malaysian Danny Chia and Australia's Terry Pilkadaris.
Defending champion Sam Brazel, Masters Tournament champion Sergio Garcia and fellow Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello were in the group at one under.
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