Simon Dyson (Getty Images)
Simon Dyson continued his return to form with a bogey-free round on the opening day of the M2M Russian Open near Moscow and then warned the rest of the field there was more to come.
The six-time European Tour winner from England has not entered the winner’s circle since 2011 and made just seven cuts in his first 15 events of 2013.
Dyson, who occupied a place in the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 30 at the start of 2012 but has now slipped to 164th, shot an opening five under par 67 at Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club to share the first round lead with Swede Rikard Karlberg and China’s Liang Wen-chong.
"That was as good as I have played for a long, long time,” said Dyson, who finished fifth in France and tied 12th in Scotland on his last two appearances to climb to 81st on The Race to Dubai.
“I missed one fairway and that was by a yard and then just hit so many quality iron shots. It was coming straight out of the middle of the clubface all day and when you are hitting it like that then you just have to enjoy and try to take as many chances as you can.
"I don't want to say I am disappointed with five under because you can never be too disappointed with that, but it could have been a lot better because I missed a few real good birdie chances and left a few shots out there today. But, as I said, I am not going to get too down on myself because I played so well out there today and I just can't wait to get back out there now because I am feeling good.”
Dyson’s recent resurgence led to bookmakers installing him as the pre-tournament favourite, but the 35 year old insisted that was a help rather than a hindrance.
“I don't think being the favourite to win the tournament has any effect on me,” he added. “I had loads of people from back home texting and ringing me to say I was the favourite so I was aware of that before I teed off today and it certainly didn't have a bad effect.
"I quite like the idea of being the one everyone thinks will win the tournament actually - it is certainly the first time that has ever happened in my career!"
Karlberg overcame a slow start to post the best round of the morning starters.
The 26 year old, playing his 50th European Tour event despite the fact he has never secured a full playing card, bogeyed the first two holes but atoned with five birdies and a pitch-in eagle at the long eighth.
"It was really good today and a great start for me,” said Karlberg. “It wasn't the best start to the round with two bogeys in the first two holes, but I managed to get things back pretty quickly and went on a great run near the turn and managed to turn it around.
"The eagle was the highlight of the day for me. I actually hit the drive a little too far to the right and then was thinking of hitting three wood at the green, but I knew if I hit it right then I wouldn't have a chance to hold the ball on the green. So I decided to lay up to give myself a good yardage which I did and then hit a perfect wedge that landed four metres behind the pin and spun back into the hole. It was one of those sexy ones that you just love to see going in!”
Liang, whose only European Tour title came six years ago in Singapore, carded six birdies against a solitary bogey as he continued the form that took him to third place finishes in Austria and India this season.
"I played really nicely today and hit the ball in very close to a lot of pins so had some fairly easy birdies,” he said.
“It is a very beautiful course, and that stretch of three holes from 11 to 13 are just so beautiful. They are three of the best holes we will play on Tour this year."
England’s Matthew Baldwin and James Morrison, Spain’s Javier Colomo and Italian Alessandro Tadini all went round in 68 to lie one off the lead.
There were some great shots as well as fine rounds; Jarmo Sandelin recovering from dropping seven shots in four holes on the back nine to ace the 220 yard 16th with a rescue club en route to a 77.