Damien McGrane returned to the European Tour after six months away and opened with a one under par 71 to share 54th in the Volvo China Open.
The 2008 champion, back in the saddle to get tournament sharp for a potential Dubai Duty Free Irish Open appearance in May, made three birdies and two bogeys at Topwin Golf and Country Club in Beijing to trail South Africa’s Hennie Otto by eight shots.
Otto carded a stunning, nine under par 63 to lead by two strokes from Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger on a day when Michel Hoey racked up a quadruple bogey eight on his 16th hole and still posted a two over 74.
The day got off to an exciting start as Rikard Karlberg, who lives just 30 minutes from Volvo’s main factory in Sweden, holed out with a seven iron at the 16th hole to win a new XC90 car from the tournament’s title sponsor en route to a three under par 69.
South Africa Otto took the headlines though, taking advantage of the benign early conditions in the first group out from the tenth tee with seven birdies and an eagle ensuring he was in the driving seat heading into the second round in Beijing.
Wiesberger carded a late seven under par 65 to lead the chasing pack, while Frenchman Grégory Bourdy, Peter Hanson of Sweden, Finland’s Rope Kakko and Fabrizio Zanotti – all European Tour winners – were a shot further back on six under par.
Hoey made an early double bogey at the 11th and dropped another shot at the 14th to be three over.
But he birdied the 15th, 18th, first and fourth to get to one under and then bounced back from his eight at the seventh with a birdie four at the par-five eighth to end the day tied for 113th, on two over, just two strokes outside the top 70 and ties.
Hennie Otto (63, -9)
"I played really well today. The first hole I saved a good par and I think that gave me momentum. After that I hit really close. I broke 30 putts - I think 24 putts with a chip-in makes a big difference.
"You have to hit it in the right places and that's the thing I did today. I hit them close, that makes a big difference. I've worked hard on my putting, that makes a difference too.
"I've been playing well, I haven't been putting well. I've been working hard on it and today it showed. I've always got a good frame of mind every week but it's just my putting let me down and today it came through."
Bernd Wiesberger (65, -7)
“It feels like a much better score than it actually was. It was really tough out there, really windy for the most of the day and I thought something just under par would be really good going out.
"I played nicely, a lot of good shots and good putts with a couple of longer ones. I felt really comfortable with the golf ball so all in all it was a really good day for me. It's a course to my liking and I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning."
Gregory Bourdy (66, -6)
“It’s a good score to start the tournament. The course is not so easy, very hilly greens but I felt very good throughout the round and just missed two greens by one yard, the rest was very solid. Seven birdies and one bogey so it was a proper score.
“I think the design of the course is good, it’s interesting. We can shape the ball differently on every, hole, we can hit some irons from the tee, sometimes driver or three wood.
“The greens aren’t too firm and it’s good that way I think. If it were very firm I think it would be too difficult but the way it is is really fair.”
Fabrizio Zanotti (66, -6)
“I played solid today in pretty much every department, from the tee, with my irons and I putted well also. But the patience was very important today.
“Shenzhen was my best tournament of the season so far so I have that little extra bit of confidence this week. I am just trusting more in what I am doing. It’s confidence in my game – I haven’t played very much this year and I have a lot of tournaments now so it’s a good time to start playing good.”
Roope Kakko (66, -6)
“I’m very happy. I’ve had some good rounds this year but I haven’t yet had a great one, and I felt like today was one of those really good ones.
“It’s hard to say what was different, the front nine was dead calm and I managed to take some birdie opportunities. The back nine obviously plays a little trickier when the wind picks up even without the wind.
“You have to be patient as always. The greens are really tricky. It all depends on where they put the pins – some pins are going to be really tough come the weekend. The greens are soft now so you can attack everything but that could change dramatically if the greens get any firmer.”
Peter Hanson (66, -6)
"It's nice to get off to a good start. It's a beautiful golf course here and it's nice to be back on really pure greens and I felt that I found the speed very well today on the greens on my lag-putting which is going to be key.
"I like it. It's going to be one of the courses you have to play aggressively, make a lot of birdies. Today I was lucky enough to not short-side myself too much and hit a lot of greens and stayed out of trouble.”
63 H Otto (RSA),
65 B Wiesberger (Aut),
66 R Kakko (Fin), G Bourdy (Fra), F Zanotti (Par), P Hanson (Swe),
67 J Luiten (Ned), A Noren (Swe), B Virto Astudillo (Esp),
68 J Lagergren (Swe), T Hatton (Eng), Y Tian (Chn), J Winther (Den), L Bjerregaard (Den), N Holman (Aus), D Burmester (RSA), R Ramsay (Sco), M Siem (Ger), F Aguilar (Chi), M Korhonen (Fin), W Murillo (Ven),
69 R Bland (Eng), M Carlsson (Swe), L Haotong (Chn), L Chieh-Po (Tpe), S Chawrasia (Ind), E De La Riva (Esp), B Hebert (Fra), R Paratore (Ita), S Gallacher (Sco), R Karlberg (Swe), M Jiménez (Esp), M Manassero (Ita), D Lipsky (USA), D Fichardt (RSA), H Porteous (RSA), A McArthur (Sco), J Carlsson (Swe),
70 B Dredge (Wal), J Choi (Kor), A Levy (Fra), B Rumford (Aus), D Brooks (Eng), N Cullen (Aus), N Fasth (Swe), M Kieffer (Ger), J Singh (Ind), J Campillo (Esp), G Havret (Fra), R Jacquelin (Fra), T Fisher Jnr (RSA), J Quesne (Fra), N Colsaerts (Bel),
71 Z Jin (Chn), D Valente (Aus), D McGrane (Irl), T Kim (Kor), P Meesawat (Tha), L Slattery (Eng), S Hend (Aus), S Jamieson (Sco), J Morrison (Eng), M Ford (Eng), C Paisley (Eng), W Ashun (Chn), R Davies (Wal), T Olesen (Den), D McKenzie (Aus),
72 P Edberg (Swe), C Zi-Hao (Chn), R Gouveia (Por), M Madsen (Den), D Drysdale (Sco), Z Guo-Wu (Chn), S Strange (Aus), M Sim (Aus), P Uihlein (USA), C Yi (Chn), W Wei-Huang (Chn) , S Gros (Fra) , R Fisher (Eng) , J Da-Xing (Chn) , C Lee (Sco) , D Zecheng (Chn) , D Papadatos (Aus) , W Ormsby (Aus) , G Boyd (Eng) , J Scrivener (Aus), H Wen-Yi (Chn), R Fox (Nzl), R Wattel (Fra), S Benson (Eng), P Larrazábal (Esp), A Otaegui (Esp), L Xue-Wen (Chn),
73 R Karlsson (Swe), M Kinhult (Swe), G Storm (Eng), M Ilonen (Fin), S Khan (Eng), M Warren (Sco), E España (Fra), T Fleetwood (Eng), L Yan-Wei (Chn), J Park (Kor), Y Yang (Kor), J Younger (Aus), T Kim (Kor), L Xin-Yang (Chn), P Khongwatmai (Tha), B Åkesson (Swe), Y Guang-Ming (Chn),
74 J Fahrbring (Swe), K Broberg (Swe), M Baldwin (Eng), R Wannasrichan (Tha), G Paddison (Nzl), O Fisher (Eng), A Quiros (Esp), M Hoey (Nir), W Xu (Chn), D Im (USA), Z Hui-Lin (Chn), L Chao (Chn), K Moon (Kor), D Lee (Kor),
75 H Shao-Cai (Chn), B Evans (Eng), J Norris (Aus), L Yuxin (Chn),
76 M Tabuena (Phi), S Jeffress (Aus), Y Jian-Feng (Chn), Z Lianwei (Chn), J Arnold (Aus), O Wilson (Eng), A Wall (Eng), C Xiao-Ma (Chn),
77 H Mu (Chn), Y Bin (Chn), S Zi-Han (Chn), N Elvira (Esp), D Kim752 (Kor),
78 Z Xinjun (Chn), T Lee (Kor), H Ze-Yu (Chn), J Wang (Kor), S Lee (Kor), S Yan (Chn), L Tighe (Aus), D Kim (Kor), Z Zhu (Chn),
79 C Hai-Meng (Chn), J Jeong (Kor), C Ding-Gen (Chn), O Zheng (Chn),
80 S Dong (Chn),
81 B Zheng-Kai (Chn),
86 Y Yongxuan (Chn)