Andrew Sherborne, Darren Lee, the Estoril Open winner Jeff Remesy, Bob May, of America, and Irishman Eamonn Darcy all carded five-under 66s in near-perfect conditions. However, it was the Welshman who had most to celebrate - a rarity this year for a Nottingham Forest fan - with his best round of the season despite some casual preparation this week.
"I didn't have a practice round and I only walked four or five holes because I felt so tired. I played the course blind really and maybe I should do it more often," said Dodd, who won the British Amateur Championship a decade ago and played in the victorious Walker Cup side in America in 1989.
Dodd had missed eight consecutive cuts before finishing joint 59th in Italy last week and put his improvement down to a new driver and the help of his long-time coach, Terry Hanson, who has caddied for him for the last two weeks.
Dean Robertson, of Scotland, winner of last week's Italian Open, withdrew after a first-round 79 that included a nine at the par-five second hole, where he lost two balls. The 28-year-old from Paisley was feeling the effects of celebrating not only his own victory but the seventh world snooker title for his friend Stephen Hendry.
"I'm not feeling well at all," Robertson said. "It's not every week you chalk up your first career win. I didn't do too much celebrating, but it's been all go."
Seve Ballesteros was probably left wishing he had not bothered to start after a six-over 77 brought an abrupt end to his recent encouraging form.
Ballesteros had finished 17th in Italy - his best finish since 1996 - and shot a 69 in Wednesday's pro-am, but he could manage only one birdie yesterday in a round that included a four-putt from 15 feet for a double- bogey five on the par- three 17th.
Jose Maria Olazabal, who struggled to a 72 having missed the cut in his first event after winning last month's Masters, again hit only half the fairways in regulation.
Ian Woosnam went one better with a level-par 71 but was left cursing his luck and the pin positions after a double bogey on the eighth, his penultimate hole. The Welshman saw his tee shot on the par three spin back into the water after pitching close to the flag and complained: "It's pathetic really. I pitched the ball two feet past the hole and ended up in the water. You can't have a flag that close to the water when the greens are so soft."
John Mellor had much better luck on the same hole, sinking his wedge for a first career hole in one.
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