Hall won the Jersey Open in 1992, but he dropped out of the Tour five years ago for economic reasons and is now a club professional in Italy. He only joined the entry list for Madeira on Monday, due to a late withdrawal.
'It was our first holiday for two years and when I was told that somebody had pulled out of the tournament I wondered whether to come. But my wife said 'Off you go'. ' Pulling his own trolley in the first group out, his reward was a seven-under-par 65, which gave him the lead by two strokes from Kent's Roger Chapman and by three from the Dane, Ole Eskildsen.
With Ryder Cup selection on the agenda, Sam Torrance had a two-under-par 70, Steve Richardson and Mark James both came in with 71, while Paul Broadhurst hit 72 and David Gilford scored 73, leaving him eight adrift.
MADEIRA OPEN (Funchal): Leading first- round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 65 J Hall. 67 R Chapman. 68 O Eskildsen (Den). 69 G Brand Jnr, N Godin. 70 D Smyth, A Hunter, P McGinley, M Davis, S Torrance, S Ames (Trin). 71 S Richardson, M James, J Payne, A Sorensen (Den), D R Jones, P Mitchell, G J Brand, T Charnley. 72 P Broadhurst, A Binaghi (It), P Hall, S Struver (Ger), M Gates, P Fulke (Swe), J Hawksworth, J Coe, M Krantz (Swe), C Mason, S Tinning (Den), J Spence, R Boxall, D Williams, M McLean, J McHenry, G Ralph. 73 D Curry, I Garbutt, E Giraud (Fr), R Rafferty, R Willison, P Price, O Karlsson (Swe), R Berhorst (Ger), D W Basson (SA), S Little, D Gilford, J Carriles (Sp), P Affleck, C Hardin (Swe), G Orr.