Peter Lawrie got off to ta great start in Korea. Photo Jenny Matthews/www.golffile.iePeter Lawrie overcame a double case of blindness to get off to a flying start in the weather-delayed Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea.

The Dubiner didn’t get to play the course in practice after only arriving at Blackstone Golf Club late on Tuesday

But despite that handicap and early morning rain and fog that caused a 130-minute delay, he racked up seven birdies in a 68 to sit just a shot behind a quintet of leaders on five under par.

“I’m very happy,” Lawrie told European Tour Radio. “I’d never played this golf course before and only played the event once when it was at Jeju Island [in 2010], never here.

“I arrived late on Tuesday and never got a practice round so I am very happy with it.”

 Starting on the back nine, Lawrie followed a birdie at the 10th with bogeys at the next two holes but would drop just one more stroke for the rest of the day.

While he bogeyed the 189-yard 16th, he picked up shots at the 14th, 17th and 18th and came home in 33 with gains at the third and fifth before signing off with another birdie at the ninth.

“It’s difficult, very hilly,” he said of the 7,281 yard test. “You need to be fit and it is going to be a long slog for the four days around here, up and down hills.

“The golf course is very good. You have to position yourself off the tee and your iron play has to be very good with undulating greens.

“We had all the seasons today: cold, rain, fog and then a little bit of sunshine. So it was a little bit difficult early on but we got that break and I played quite nicely when I came back out.”

The fog and rain made life tough for the early starters and visibility was so poor at the downhill, par-four fourth that Lawrie ended up finding the lake on the left.

“Fourth tee box, it’s like the 11th at Madeira and unfortunatley I hit it in the water there but escaped with a four,” he said.

Louis Oosthuizen. Picture (c) Getty ImagesPleased with his performance off the tee, he added: “I am working hard on the driver, trying to keep it in play and I hit a lot of good tee shots today, which was great and my iron play has been great.

“We are getting there, slowly but surely.”

England’s Matthew Baldwin, Sweden’s Johan Edfors, Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Gonnet, Korean Gi-whan Kim and Australian Kieran Pratt shot five under 67s to lead by a shot from Lawrie, Lee Jung Hwan, Tommy Fleetwood and world No 7 Louis Oosthuizen.

The South Afrtican, who is making his debut in this week’s €2.2m  event, covered the front nine at Blackstone Golf Club in just 30 strokes, but dropped two shots after the turn to finish the day on four under par.

Oosthuizen said: “I got off to a great start, and was hitting it really well early on. But then on the back nine the wind came in and the weather got worse, and I miscued two shots and paid the price.

“But overall I haven’t hit it that well for a long time, so it was very encouraging. I was striking it very nicely on the range this morning, and then managed to take it onto the course with me this afternoon. So I’m very happy.”

Damien McGrane managed a one under 71 and Ryder CUp captain  a one over 73 while Ballyclare’s Gareth Maybin was one of 78 players who failed to finish.

The Ulster player will resume his first round at 7.30 am at two over with eight holes to play.