Scotland's Dean Robertson made light of a five-month lay-off to claim the early lead in the Spanish Open at the PGA Golf de Catalunya event here.
The 29-year-old from Paisley produced a superb first round 65 to equal the course record and establish a one-shot lead over Spain's Juan Quiros and the Australian Nick O'Hern.
It was a remarkable effort from the 1999 Italian Open champion who had not played a full round since November last year in the World Cup of Golf. A stomach virus picked up in Kuala Lumpur laid Robertson so low that he could only attempt nine holes of practice in Australia in January this year before taking to his sick bed and eventually flying home.
"I'm absolutely delighted," Robertson said. "It's a hell of a score, especially on a first outing. I was quite nervous on the first tee, it was a strange feeling and I didn't know what to expect. I had no expectations at all today and just told myself to go out and enjoy it no matter what happened."
Heavy rain yesterday morning left the course vulnerable to good scoring and the defending champion, Sweden's Jarmo Sandelin, and Denmark's Thomas Bjorn - who won the Sarazen Open here last year - both shot 68s. Gary Orr added to the good news for the Scots with a 68 while Jose Maria Olazabal shot a 69 and Sergio Garcia a 70 with three birdies in a row on his back nine.
With the rain stopped and the sun threatening, the low scoring continued in the afternoon with Seve Ballesteros in spectacular form. The 43-year-old Spaniard, invigorated by his recent win over Colin Montgomerie at Sunningdale, eagled the first when he holed his seven-iron approach and added two more birdies in his first six holes. That took him to four under and on course for his first cut on the European Tour this year.
Montgomerie, the European No 1, had also started brightly with three birdies in four holes before a bogey on the fifth.
Sadly for the sizeable gallery, who bravely ignored the continuous drizzle, Ballesteros was unable to maintain his magical start and hit a double-bogey seven on the seventh after losing his ball in trees. Two more bogeys followed and the five-times Major-winner had to settle for an outward half of 36, seven shots off the lead.
Montgomerie, meanwhile, had recovered from his dropped shot with a birdie on the seventh to be out in 33, and looked one of the few likely to challenge the leaders. Montgomerie's superb approach to four feet on the 13th set up an easy birdie to take him to four under but he gave that shot straight back on the next, missing from two feet after splashing out of a bunker.
Meanwhile, Ballesteros was having further adventures back on the 10th, arguing long and hard for a free drop after his drive nestled under a bush and eventually getting his way. He escaped with a bogey there but dropped another shot on the 14th to be two over par while Mark James was only one shot better after a six on the 13th.
65 D Robertson 66 N O'Hern (Aus), J Quiros (Spa), P Quirici (Swi) 67 C Montgomerie, G Hamerton 68 J Sandelin (Swe), G Orr, T Bjorn (Den), S Struver (Ger) 69 P-U Johansson (Swe), JM Olazabal (Spa), R Byrd (USA), M Brier (Aut), F Cea (Spa) 70 D Howell, E Romero (Arg), J Bickerton, P Price, N Fasth (Swe), S Garcia (Spa), G Evans, J Berendt (Arg), B Lane, P Baker, A Coltart, G Owen 71 T Johnstone (Zim), G Brand Jnr, S Tinning (Den), P Golding, I Pyman, P Fowler (Aus), R Coles, R Gonzalez (Arg), A Hansen (Den), R Johnson (Swe), O Eliasson (Swe), I Garrido (Spa), J Senden (Aus), C Suneson (Spa) 72 R Claydon, D Smyth, T Gogele (Ger), T Munoz (Spa), I Giner (Spa), D Lee, PG Nyman (Swe), M Mackenzie, C Rodiles (Spa), P Sjoland (Swe), D Hospital (Spa), R Davis (Aus), J Aguero (Spa), D Carter, B Teilleria (Fra), O Edmond (Fra), D De Vooght (Bel), I Hutchings (Rsa), F Roca (Spa), G Murphy 73 J Coceres (Arg), D Park, D Terblanche (Rsa), R Quiros (Spa), R McFarlane, B Dredge, T Gillis (USA), A Wall, I Woosnam, A Cabrera (Arg), MA Martin (Spa), V Phillips, JM Arruti (Spa), E Darcy, (x) C Aguilar (Spa) 74 F Valra (Spa), P Mitchell, M Farry (Fra), R Chapman, M James, J Moseley (Aus), (x) R Vera (Spa), S Kjeldsen (Den), F Lindgren (Swe), S Webster 75 JM Carriles (Spa), F Jacobson (Swe), R Russell, J Remesy (Fra), P Martinez (Arg), J Rozadilla (Spa), K Storgaard (Den), S Luna (Spa), P Linhart (Spa), MA Jimenez (Spa), S Ballesteros, R Muntz (Ned), J Rivero (Spa), M Lafeber (Ned) 76 A Cejka (Ger), JM Lara (Spa), G Rojas (Arg), J Skold (Swe), G Hutcheon, S Torrance, S Delagrange (Fra), (x) P Kaensche (Nor) 77 A Sherborne, R Wessels (Rsa), M Anglert (Swe), P O'Malley (Aus) 78 A Forsyth, G Emerson 79 V Etchevers (Spa), M Jonzon (Swe), A McLardy (Rsa), P Iguaran (Spa) 80 N Ludwell 84 (x) R Ballesteros (Spa)Reuse content