Danny Willett took a share of the clubhouse lead at the BMW PGA after a superb 65 at sunny Wentworth – including burning up the first five holes in five-under par.
“Even on a par-three course, I would take that,” said the 2016 Masters champion.
The Yorkshireman was eight-under after 12 holes – including an eagle at the fourth – before carding his only bogey on 14 an parring his way home. He shares the early halfway lead with Spaniard Jon Rahm.
Willett said: “I hit a lot of good shots and made some good mid-range putts. I got off to a pretty good start and then the wind picked up on the back nine and it was a bit tricky.”
The Ryder Cup star suffered back injury problems since his only Major win and dropped to world No.462 after missing the cut here last year.
He returned to winning ways at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in November and is playing the PGA Tour this year.
“I have learned a lot about myself,” said the world No.58. “I have learned how little this game means in the grand scheme of things. It is about your health and happiness.
“It is enjoyable to be back playing nice and I can step up and be confident with what I am doing.”
Rahm joined Willet on 11-under par by eagling the final hole after hitting a 4-iron to eight feet.
“I was feeling confident and it was a good club and went for it,” said the Spaniard.
World No.4 Justin Rose is two shots back in a share of third place with South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout after his 68 despite suffering from a left knee injury.
“I woke up sore this morning,” said the Olympic champion.
“I wore a softer pair of shoes today, something with a little more forgiveness. I was kind of hobbling out of the hotel this morning thinking it could be a long day but like anything, once the body gets warmed up, it’s all good.”