Tiger-slayer David Howell continued his run of magical form as he partnered Luke Donald to a sensational 59 on day one of the World Cup at Vilamoura.

Just a week after getting the better of Woods in the HSBC Champions Tournament in Shanghai, the Swindon man fired five birdies and an eagle to go with six birdies by Donald.

That run of figures was enough to give England a one stroke lead at the top over Australia’s Mark Hensby and Peter Lonard and India’s Arjuan Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa.

Howell said: “Conditions were perfect. You are not going to get it any easier. Obviously with the foursomes to come and the weather forecast not being great, that is probably the best the scoring is going to be.”

It was a true team effort by the English pair with Donald forced to hole an eight footer for a par at the 18th and a memorable 59 after ramming his 40 foot approach putt well past the cup.

On the putt Donald said: “Obviously things had been going really well and I didn’t want to miss that one.

“I knew the importance of making 59, so it was a big putt and I am glad it went in.”

Playing in the last group of the day with hosts Portugal, England knew that scoring was going to be hot when they saw Wales, Sweden and India approaching double digits under par as they came down the stretch.

But while they failed to birdie the first hole, they picked up ten shots in the next nine holes as Howell birdied the second and then eagled the third from just four feet.

He birdied the fourth as well before Donald birdied the fifth, but then took over again with a two at the sixth.

After that the strong man of the team was  Donald, who added birdies at the seventh, eighth and ninth for an outward half of 27.

Another Howell birdie at the 10th put them 10 under par and while they failed to birdie the next four holes, they finished with Donald birdies at the 15th and 16th, followed by a Howell four at the par five 17th.

Donald said: “After ten holes we thought anything was possible. The way we were playing, we just had so much momentum on our side.”

Neither man wanted to take about needing a four at the last for a 59, although both were well aware of the fact.

Howell added: “It wasn’t mentioned but I was obviously getting ridiculously aggressive to try and shoot 58.”

Today’s foursomes round is likely to have a huge bearing on the destiny of the title and if one player has a bad day, it could undo a lot of good work.

Aussie Lonard, who partnered Hensby to a fine 60 yesterday, is well aware of the pitfalls.

He said: “There might be a few partners wanting to kill each other by the end of tomorrow, but that’s the nature of the game.

“It the weather’s like this, I expect the scores to be really good, particularly if you are going to win. If the wind gets up, who knows.”

While it was a good day for England, Australia, India, Sweden and Wales, it was a day to forget for the USA.

American duo Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson finished on seven under par, which left them three adrift of middle of the table Spain.

Cink said: “I think you can call a six on a par five in a betterball fourball a screeching halt to you momentum.”