Dawie van der Walt shot a seven-under-par 65 to post the clubhouse lead at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters following the competition of Wednesday morning’s rounds at Doha Golf Club.
Meanwhile, England's Steve Webster made an amazing start to his first round, holing his second shot for an albatross. Webster began on the 10th and saw his approach to the 548-yard par-five disappear into the cup for the second albatross on this season’s European Tour this season.
Van der Walt, who won the Nelson Mandela Championship on home soil in December, carded a flawless round containing five birdies and an eagle to post the clubhouse lead, one ahead of Spanish duo Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Nacho Elvira and France's François Calmels.
Van der Walt also made a strong start to last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, before fading to finish 71st. The big South African admitted that disappointment had spurred him on.
“I had a terrible week and looked like a blind squirrel; I couldn’t do anything right, although my game didn't feel too bad,” said the 30-year-old.
“I played well today so I'm not too surprised with my score. I played solid and I forgot about last week, so I’ll just keep the same mindset and do the same things. I’ll just try and birdie every hole like I did today.”
Cabrera-Bello, who was fourth in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, and Elvira both carded six birdies and no bogeys, while Calmels had a more adventurous 66, with an eagle on the 10th, six birdies and two bogeys.
Race to Dubai winner Henrik Stenson quickly returned to form after a rare missed cut in Abu Dhabi, the Swede carding birdies at his last two holes to complete a 68.
Playing partner Jason Dufner, the PGA Championship winner, returned a 70, while former World No. 1 Luke Donald, the third member of the marquee group, returned a 72, which featured a missed par putt from inside a foot on the fourth.
Play got under way shortly after 7.00am local time following a 30-minute fog delay. Darren Clarke was forced to miss out on his 500th European Tour appearance after pulling out through injury.
Clarke, who has lost more than three stone since October in a bid to recapture his best form, was due to play alongside defending champion Chris Wood and Spain's Miguel Angel Jiménez in the first two rounds.
However, the 45-year-old suffered a pulled muscle on Tuesday and was forced to withdraw, with Sweden's Jens Dantorp – who earned his card through the Qualifying School last year – taking his place in the field.
Clarke won The Open Championship in 2011, but has not recorded a top-10 finish on The European Tour since his triumph at Royal St George's.