Englishman Lee Slattery took charge of the Rolex Trophy by carding a seven under par 65 in the first round at Golf Club de Genève in Switzerland.
The 32 year old leads compatriot Charlie Ford by two shots after hitting a hot streak on the back nine, where four consecutive birdies from the 13th propelled him to the top of the leaderboard.
Earlier he recovered from a bogey at the second to reach the turn three under, and he admitted he was feeling refreshed and re-energised after a holiday last week.
“I started slowly and missed a short putt on the first for birdie and another one at the second for par,” said Slattery, who is chasing his second Challenge Tour win of the season following his victory in the Telenet Trophy. “I was starting to think it was not going to be my day but, as with a lot of rounds, you start badly and progressively got much better.
“Towards the end I felt like I could have kept going all day. It was great.
“It feels like a long time ago that I won in Belgium even though it’s only a couple of months. I’m like most golfers in that we’re never happy and even when you win a tournament you’re trying to change things and improve. Maybe I’ve done too much but I’ve been working very hard.
“I think the key to this week is having a week off last week. I went on holiday to Croatia and came back feeling like a different person, like I was ready to play again. I put in a few days of hard work before this tournament and it’s starting to feel good again.”
Ford also racked up four straight birdies on the back nine to card a five under par 67, while current Challenge Tour Rankings leader Robert Dinwiddie, the 2007 Rolex Trophy champion, birdied the 18th for a four under par 68, alongside Scotsman George Murray.
“I played okay,” said Dinwiddie. “It’s the kind of course where you can get a score going if you’re accurate off the tee. It’s not particularly long and you have a lot of short irons into greens so you should be hitting it pretty close.
“There are still some tough holes out there and luckily I managed to avoid any disasters. I three-putted the fifth for bogey but got it going on the back nine with birdies at the 14th and 16th. Then I was a little lucky to birdie the 18th as my second shot only just cleared the bunker and rolled up to about two feet.
“I’ve got great memories of winning here in 2007 and it would be great to do it again. There’s a long way to go yet but this is a good start.”