Sergio Garcia fired a bogey-free 67 to set the clubhouse target on day one of the Australian PGA Championship.
The Spaniard has enjoyed a stellar 2017 with wins at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation to go with his maiden Major Championship victory at the Masters Tournament.
He was looking to end the calendar year in style at the second event of the new season and his five under par opening round handed him a one-shot lead over Australians Greg Chalmers, Steve Dartnall and Rhein Gibson on a leaderboard dominated by Antipodean talent.
RACV Royal Pines Resort was softened by rain - with two short delays in the morning - but the Gold Coast layout was still proving a tough test for the field.
Starting on the tenth, Garcia rolled in a 15-footer for birdie on the 11th but any chance of getting some early momentum was halted as play was delayed for 20 minutes due to flooded greens.
Garcia then went over the green with his second on the par five 15th but made a smart up-and-down to turn in 34.
A ragged tee-shot on the third looked like it would leave the 14-time European Tour winner looking at a bogey but he hit a stunning recovery to make a birdie.
An approach to tap-in range on the sixth had him out in the lead on his own and when the 37 year old hit another smart second into the eighth, he was five under.
Two-time champion Chalmers turned in level par 36 from the tenth but produced a big finish with birdies on the fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth.
Gibson quickly dropped to two over with bogeys on the third and fifth but rattled off four birdies in a row from the sixth before adding further gains on the 13th and 15th.
Dartnall made a birdie-bogey-birdie start before recording eight straight pars. He broke that run with a birdie on the third and then two closing gains moved him within a shot of the lead.
Australians Dale Brandt-Richards, David Bransdon, Andrew Martin, Craig Parry and Travis Smyth were three under.
Finn Kim Koivu and England's Paul Maddy were then in the group at two under, a shot clear of another Englishman in Steve Webster, last week's winner Wade Ormsby, 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott, Belgian Thomas Detry, Finn Mikko Ilonen, American Daniel Im and Welshman Stuart Manley.
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