Marc Warren bounced back from a roller-coaster ride in Dubai to set the clubhouse target in the opening round of the Maybank Championship in Malaysia.
The 35-year-old, who finished ninth in this event two years ago, carded a superb nine-under-par 63 at Saujana Golf and Country Club to hold a two-shot cushion.
Warren got off to a fast start with birdies at the first, third, fourth and sixth holes before moving up a gear with an eagle at the 534-yard par-5 eighth.
The three-time European Tour winner then knocked his tee-shot on the par-3 12th to 15 feet before adding further birdies at the 14th and 17th to round off a superb morning’s work in the £2.4 million event.
The effort, which matched his opening round in the Portugal Masters last October, was a 10-shot improvement on his first-day score in this event 12 months ago, when he missed the cut.
Warren, who finished last season strongly to retain his playing privileges on the European Tour, started the 2017 campaign by making the cut in both Abu Dhabi and Qatar before making an early exit in Dubai last week.
He made 11 birdies in two rounds at Emirates Golf Club but his first round in particular was an error-strewn affair, signing for a 78 before the wind strengthened on the Majlis Course.
Warren’s nearest challenger after the morning wave in Malaysia was Thai teenager Phachara Khongwatmai.
The 17-year-old became the youngest winner of a professional tournament when he won the Singha Hua Hin Open on the ASEAN PGA Tour at the age of just 14 in 2013.
In just his seventh European Tour event, he birdied the 13th, 15th, 16th and 18th to turn in 32 before putts of eight, 20 and eight feet on the fourth, fifth and sixth catapulted him up the leaderboard.
Another gain on the eighth gave him a share of the lead but he bogeyed his final hole and a Warren birdie on the 17th saw the Scot go two shots ahead.
Sitting a shot further back are Masters champion Danny Willett, American Peter Uihlein and local favourite Arie Irawan.
Willett boosted his confidence by carding a first bogey-free round since the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last May.
Richie Ramsay opened with a one-over 73 while David Drysdale, the third Scot in the field, was out in the afternoon.
Michele Thomson maintained her promising start to the season as Laura Davies rolled back the years to set the pace in the LET’s opening event of 2017 in Australia.
Thomson, an Access Series graduate, carded a four-under-par 69 to sit just outside the top 10 in the opening round of the Oates Vic Open.
The former Curtis Cup player made her score by coming home in five-under, having birdied the 10th, 13th, 14th, 17th and 18th.
The excellent effort left her four behind Davies after the former world No 1 carded an eagle and six birdies in a flawless opening salvo at the 13th Beach Golf Links.
Davies is sitting two shots clear of five players - compatriots Holly Clyburn and Mel Reid, Dane Nicole Broch Larsen, Germany’s Sandra Gal and Whitney Hillier from Australia.
Beth Allen, the Edinburgh-based American who topped the LET money-list last season, opened the new campaign with a two-under 71 to sit in a tie for 22nd.
Carly Booth had a 72, Kylie Henry shot 75 and both Gemma Dryburgh and Kelsey Macdonald carded 78s.
In an event that sees men and women compete simultaneously for the same prize-money, home player David Brandson tops the men’s leaderboard after an eight-under-par 64.
Birthday boy Craig Ross stepped up his bid to complete a South African double and Barry Hume made an encouraging start in Portugal as Scottish amateurs look to make their presence felt on two fronts.
Kirkhill man Ross, the reigning South African Amateur champion, moved into contention in the Rainbow Nation’s Stroke-Play Championship after a second-round 66 on his 24th birthday at Kingswood Golf Estate in George.
“I struggled a little when I came back to South Africa to tee it up in the BMW SA Open, but the game has been coming along nicely,” said Ross.
“I just let the one shot slip today, otherwise it was a solid day. I am striking it well, keeping it in the fairways and the putter is working well, too.
“It’s nice to have such a tight leaderboard, because it gives everyone a little boost to try harder. The key to scoring at Kingswood is keeping a clean card; that’s how you make a low number.”
He’s sitting sixth on five-under, three shots behind Swede OIiver Gillberg (67-65), after jumping above compatriot Liam Johnston as the Dumfries & County player, who’d shared the overnight lead, slipped to 11th following a 72.
In his first outing since making the GB&I squad for this year’s Walker Cup, Haggs Castle stalwart Hume opened with a one-under-par 71 in the Portuguese Amateur Championship, covering his last 10 holes at Montado in one-under.
Turnhouse’s Euan McIntosh, last year’s Scottish No 1, signed for a 75 as England’s Toby Briggs and Italian Gicaomo Fortini set the pace on 68.
Paul Lawrie was among a group of players to find conditions unplayable as Chris Lamb maintained his hot-streak on the North-East Alliance circuit at Strathlene.
“Wee bit blowy, walked in from 5th as unplayable,” wrote Lawrie on Twitter. “Pity as lovely place and will be back.”
The Aberdonian later responded to being asked “how bad does it have to be for a Scot to walk off?”
In reply, he tweeted: “People putting off the 5th green and chipping on and ball coming straight back is how bad, beautiful place though.”
The tough conditions were reflected by Newmachar player Lamb finishing five shots clear of the field with a five-over-par 74 as he recorded a third win on the circuit in recent weeks.
Tartan Tour No 1 Greig Hutcheon had lots of ground to make up on the leader in the second round of the latest Algarve Pro Tour event.
It followed Hutcheon, who is attached to the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre, Inchmarlo, carding a 68 on a day when Frenchman Franck Daux set the pace with an 11-under-par 60.
Liberton’s Kieran Cantley claimed the scratch spoils in the Edinburgh & East of Scotland Alliance event at North Berwick.
He carded a three-under-par 67 (36,31) to win by two shots from Alan Reid (West Lothian), with Ross Munro (Duddingston) two shots further back in third.