Rory McIlroy ended the first round of the Hong Kong Open in a three-way tie for the lead on six under par after David Horsey and Alvaro Quiros matched the 22-year-old’s opening 64.
McIlroy was among the first groups out at Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling and collected six birdies without dropping a shot to set the early clubhouse mark during windy morning conditions.
But Horsey responded with a similar effort in the afternoon, and Quiros chipped in at the 18th to also end the day six under.
The trio head twice former winner Miguel Angel Jiminez by a stroke, with Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin and Australian Darren Beck two back on four under.
McIlroy said: “I think, first of all, the greens are a lot firmer and a lot faster than they usually are, which makes it tougher to get the ball closer to the hole, but the wind was a big factor.
“It swirls in these trees. You can feel it one minute downwind and the next right to left so you just have to trust where the wind is coming from.
“I was able to do that. I got a couple of gusts where the ball might have gone a few yards left or right from where I wanted to but all in all, I was able to handle the wind pretty well.”
Harrogate’s John Parry, who needs to finish in the top eight to earn full playing rights on the European Tour next season, got off to a nightmare start as he shot a six-over-par 76.
Danny Willett’s season is also set to end in disappointment after an opening 75.
Malton’s Simon Dyson is two shots off the lead at the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City, South Africa.
He shot a 70, to the 68s of the leading duo of defending champion Lee Westwood and home favourite and US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.
Westwood, who won by eight shots at the Gary Player Country Club last year, carded four birdies, an eagle and two bogeys in his four-under-par 68.
Masters champion Schwartzel was also round in 68 after a superb back nine of 31.
Sweden’s Robert Karlsson is a shot behind on three under, with world No 1 Luke Donald joining Dyson on two under.
Donald had looked set to at least share the lead after playing the first 14 holes in four under, but found water off the tee on the 17th to run up a double-bogey six. Westwood recovered from a bogey at the first to reach the turn in 34 and completed his round in style with a birdie on the last.
Open champion Darren Clarke brings up the rear of the 12-man field after carding a two-over 74.