Chris Wood set the pace at the Wales Open on Thursday with a superb six-under 65 in the first round at Celtic Manor.
Wood hopes to force himself into the reckoning for a Ryder Cup debut on this course in October and the Englishman established an early one-stroke lead over Australian Andrew Dodt and Welshman Bradley Dredge.
Englishman Richard McEvoy had been within a stroke of Wood, but dropped a shot to be two strokes adrift along with a trio of other players.
Wood looks like recovering from the disappointment of Wentworth two weeks ago, when he led the European Tour’s flagship PGA Championship with a round to go and then crashed to a 77.
He was quickly into his stride with three birdies in his first eight holes and then picked up further strokes at the fourth, seventh and eighth.
The 22-year-old, fifth and third in the last two Open Championships, had a chance to add another on the long ninth, but his putt lipped out.
Dredge was runner-up in the event three years ago, but that was on another of the courses at the venue.
A victory on the lay-out where the US will defend the Ryder Cup would be a huge feather in his cap as he pursues what he calls a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to play in the match on home soil.
He was four-under after nine, failed to get up and down from a bunker on the sixth, but birdied the next two like Wood.
European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie had one of his better rounds of the season, shooting a one-under 70, though he was unable to match the shot of the first round from playing partner Alvaro Quiros.
The Spanish Open champion won a magnum of champagne for holing in one with a six-iron at the third.
Simon Khan, returning to tournament action after his life-changing PGA Championship victory, finished on level-par having dropped a shot in the final two holes.
Last Sunday’s Madrid Masters victor Luke Donald — who had blown his chance to win at Wentworth with a double-bogey at the penultimate hole — did not fare as well shooting a 75.