James Kingston (Getty Images)
South Africa's James Kingston claimed the clubhouse lead on a weather-disrupted first day of the BMW PGA Championship.
Kingston recorded seven birdies and one bogey to card a six under par 66 at Wentworth Club shortly before the threat of lightning saw play suspended at 3:42pm, with the final group having teed off seconds earlier.
A 90-minute delay meant the opening round could not be completed on schedule, and five groups were still on the course when darkness brought play to a close. They will return early on Friday morning, with second round tee times unchanged.
Going best of those on the course was Austrian Martin Wiegele, who reached four under with five to play thanks to a run of five birdies in six holes around the turn.
Kingston is only in the field on a sponsor's invite after losing his European Tour card at the end of last season, but the 47 year old made the most of it to lead by one shot from Finland's Mikko Ilonen, with Scotland's Scott Henry and Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño a shot further back.
"I never felt like I played poorly enough to lose my card and that's what makes it even more frustrating," said Kingston, whose last of two European Tour victories came in the Mercedes Benz Championship in 2009.
"I felt like I played half decent throughout the whole season, but just never managed to put a score on the board. It does make it a little harder to accept. Getting an invite into this event, what a great feeling to be back here. I think I've made the most of it today."
Ilonen had earlier survived everything the British summer could throw at him, including a brief spell of hail, to card a 67 as he looked to build on a run of two second places in his last three events.
"It was pretty nippy when we started and stayed that way," said Ilonen, who finished runner-up in Morocco and China recently.
"All day I was thinking 'Can I get these waterproof trousers off?' and never managed it. We even had hail on the ninth tee. I said to a friend last night it was going to snow today and she laughed at me. It's British summer and we have proof of that."
Henry, who only found out he was in the tournament as he boarded a flight from Madeira on Monday morning, completed a 68 which started with a bogey but also contained four birdies and an eagle.
"It was nice to see my name on the leaderboard on the back nine, it was a bit surreal," said the 26 year old, who graduated from the Challenge Tour last season thanks to winning the Kazakhstan Open in a play-off.
"I was pretty nervous this morning, it's a big tournament and the first time I have been here. It's a great test of golf and for the first time this year I could put everything together."
All but one of last year's victorious Ryder Cup team are in the 150-man field, but several of them fell victim to the closing stretch at Wentworth Club’s famous West Course.
England's Justin Rose - runner-up last year and beaten in a play-off in 2007 - finished bogey, double-bogey to drop from three under to level, while World Number Two Rory McIlroy had also been three under after 12 holes but bogeyed five of the last six to be home in 41 for a two over 74.
McIlroy's playing partner Graeme McDowell also ran up a double-bogey seven on the 18th in matching McIlroy's 74.
Ian Poulter finished bogey-bogey in a 76, while Luke Donald took 78 as he looks to emulate Colin Montgomerie in completing a hat-trick of victories in the event.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia was one Ryder Cup star not to be phased by the par five last, holing from 20 feet for eagle in a round of 72.