Kevin Phelan produced a red hot finish to scorch up the leaderboard in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
The Mount Juliet touring professional, 67th in the Race to Dubai but still battling to win back his card, made three birdies and two bogeys in his first 10 holes when he double bogeyed the 11th to slip to one over.
But he then dug deep down the stretch at the Heritage Golf Club, making twos at the 13th and 15th before closing with birdies at the last two holes for a three under 68 and a share of 14th.
The Waterford native is three shots behind a trio of leaders that includes Dane Thorbjørn Olesen, who made a dream return following a three month injury lay-off, firing a six under par 65 to share the leader with 19 year old Korean Jeunghun Wang and Spain’s Carlos Pigem,
Olesen has not played since the start of February after an operation to correct a tendon problem in his left hand. But he showed few signs of ring rust with a superb short game display.
After starting on the back nine, Olesen birdied four of his opening four holes and picked up further gains at the 16th and 18th – either side of a dropped shot on the 17th – for an outward 31.
A second bogey of the day followed immediately after the turn as the wind picked up, but he birdied the fifth hole and completed his scoring with a ten footer on the seventh hole.
Olesen’s clubhouse target was then first matched by Wang, who has made 21 consecutive cuts on the Asian Tour, followed by Pigem, the Spaniard currently playing in Asia who is trying to earn a European Tour card.
Australian Terry Pilkadaris and South African Oliver Bekker are a shot back on five under par in the €1million tournament, which is the first to be tri-sanctioned by the European, Asian and Sunshine Tours.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this – three months to play a competition round, so I was excited to get out there this morning,” Olesen said.
“We had great conditions and I hit a lot of great putts, so it was fun.”
Complete first round scores (par 71)
65 T Olesen (Den), J Wang (Kor), C Pigem (Esp)
66 O Bekker (RSA), T Pilkadaris (Aus)
67 P Pittayarat (Tha), J Parry (Eng), D Woltman (USA), R Gangjee (Ind), J Walters (RSA), M Muthiya (Zam), D Burmester (RSA), N Holman (Aus)
68 C Del Moral (Esp), R Karlberg (Swe), K Phelan (Irl), A McArthur (Sco), P Edberg (Swe), M Kawamura (Jpn), B Virto Astudillo (Esp), M Fitzpatrick (Eng), M Lundberg (Swe)
69 C Nel (RSA), T Aiken (RSA), R Cairns (Zim), S Barr (Aus), J Janewattananond (Tha), S Brazel (Aus), P Peterson (USA), T Khrongpha (Tha), M Mamat (Sin)
70 R McGowan (Eng), B Evans (Eng), J Roos (RSA), N Schietekat (RSA), E Goya (Arg), S Lewton (Eng), S Supupramai (Tha), J Lagergren (Swe), D Chopra (Swe), G Coetzee (RSA), J Hahn (USA), C Hung (Tpe), K Horne (RSA), P Oriol (Esp)
71 S Kapur (Ind), J Garcia Pinto (Esp), J Knutzon (USA), B Ritthammer (Ger), M Bremner (RSA), T Wiratchant (Tha), A Tadini (Ita), V Riu (Fra), J Carlsson (Swe), A Groom (Aus), C Bouniol (Fra), C Basson (RSA), J Scrivener (Aus), J Palmer (Eng), W Coetsee (RSA), S Rahman (Ban), E De La Riva (Esp)
72 M Perera (Sri), A Da Silva (Bra), A Dodt (Aus), R Lee (Can), C Phadungsil (Tha), G Bhullar (Ind), J Ahlers (RSA), J Colomo (Esp), M Both (Aus), J Kruger (RSA), R McEvoy (Eng), U Park (Aus), D Basson (RSA), C Paisley (Eng), S Hansen (Den), M Orrin (Eng), T Levet (Fra), B Henson (USA), S Hend (Aus), P Martin Benavides (Esp), L Bax (am) (Mus)
73 R Khan (Ind), E Taylor (RSA), T Van Der Walt (RSA), L Jensen (Den), A Pavan (Ita), R Lupini (RSA), A Atwal (Ind), D Van Tonder (RSA), J Hugo (RSA), K Richardson (Aus), J Harding (RSA), C Lloyd (Eng), A Marshall (Eng), D Van Den Heever (RSA), A Velasco (Esp), U Van Den Berg (RSA) ,
74 B Easton (RSA), R Santos (Por), L De Jager (RSA), T Ryan (RSA), S Norris (RSA), J Blaauw (RSA), R Wannasrichan (Tha), J Edfors (Swe), J Higginbottom (Aus), T Bjørn (Den)
75 E Van Rooyen (RSA), V Groenewald (RSA), T Thimba Jnr (RSA), T Moore (RSA), N Dougherty (Eng), P Meesawat (Tha), R Van Der Spuy (RSA), L Weber (Fra)
76 D Petersen (RSA), M Rominger (Sui), H Porteous (RSA), N Tantipokhakul (Tha), D Frittelli (RSA)
77 K Aphibarnrat (Tha), L Rowe (RSA), G Tian-Lang (Chn) ,
78 P Junhasavasdikul (Tha), P Maddy (Eng)
79 B Stow (Eng)
80 H Otto (RSA) ,
81 A Vongvanij (Tha), S Smith (Bot)
82 A Curlewis (RSA)