It was a nightmare day for tennis star Roger Federer in Australia, but it was a dream one for his Swedish look-alike Johan Edfors in Bahrain.
As Federer lost his semi-final in Melbourne, 35-year-old newly-wed Edfors took the lead in the inaugural Volvo Golf Champions by two after an eight-under-par opening round of 64.
Compatriot Peter Hanson, his Ryder Cup team-mate Francesco Molinari, England’s Graeme Storm and Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal share second place.
Sergio Garcia is just one further back after a bogey-free start to his season and Paul Casey – the highest-ranked player in the field at world No 9 – also shot 67.
A week after his disqualification in Abu Dhabi, Padraig Harrington said he “struggled big time” for a 70, while Ian Poulter is in danger of a second successive missed cut following a 72, the same score as course designer Colin Montgomerie.
Edfors, married last month, won three times in 2006, but has failed to add to his tally in more than 100 European Tour events since then.
However, he took advantage of the calmer early conditions with nine birdies, his only mistake coming on the short 16th.
After establishing the record mark for the new Tour venue, he said: “My iron play was really superb and I had a bunch of chances from around 15 feet.”
The undulating greens have come under scrutiny and Garcia, the former world No 2 who has slumped to 80th in the rankings, said: “It’s a shame it’s so hilly because you can’t get them faster, but it was definitely a positive start to the year for me.”
Richard Finch led the Yorkshire trio involved on 71 with John Parry a shot further back and Simon Dyson on 75.