Gareth Maybin and Peter Lawrie were the only Irishmen to break par as Graeme Storm surged to the top and Ryder Cup bound Martin Kaymer made a timely return to form in the KLM Open.
A faultless seven under par 63 enabled Storm to reach seven under at Hilversumsche GC, putting him two clear of Kaymer, Fabrizio Zanotti and Raphaël Jacquelin.
Kaymer’s European team-mate Peter Hanson was one of six players tied for fifth on four under, while Nicolas Colsaerts - one of José María Olazábal’s captain’s picks - birdied the last to go round in 70.
But leading the way is Storm, who currently lies 114th in The Race to Dubai and faces a battle to retain his European Tour card.
In addition to struggling for form he has been forced to cope with tragedy away from the course, with his grandfather passing away prior to June’s BMW International Open.
“I’ve had a tough run and it’s all been a bit of a struggle. I’ve just not been enjoying it,” Storm explained.
“I lost my grandfather on the Wednesday morning of Germany and since then I have really struggled. I kind of kept it to myself what happened but it hit me really hard.
“You can get punished round here but I played the best I have probably played all year. I’m just happy to get a round like that under my belt after recent months.”
Kaymer and Jacquelin each benefited from eagles at the par five 12th en route to rounds of 65, although the former - champion here in 2010 - insists there is still hard work ahead as he seeks to recapture his best form.
“Two years ago when I won here was very nice but that was a period of time I could have played golf with my eyes closed,” the German explained.
“Now is a different time when I need to work and it takes a lot of energy and a lot of concentration. I really need to focus on the things on the range. Two years ago it was more automatic.”
Lawrie and Maybin shot one under 69s with Damien McGrane round in 70 and Simon Thornton, who needs a hot finish to the season to avoid Q-School, a 71.
Former champion Darren Clarke signed for a two over 72 while Shane Lowry and Paul McGinley had four over 74s.