Ian Poulter put world No. 1 Luke Donald in the shade on Thursday to seize the lead after the opening round of the 2011 JBWere Australian Masters.
Poulter fired a 6-under-par 65 at Victoria Golf Club to gain a one-stroke advantage over local hopeful Ashley Hall, while Donald carded a 69.
Peter Lonard, Jarrod Lyle and Matthew Giles were among six players on 67, one shot clear of Rod Pampling and Richard Green and two ahead of Donald.
Greg Chalmers, trying to become the second player to complete the Australian Triple Crown after sweeping the Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship, also opened with a 69. Robert Allenby, who accomplished the feat in 2005, had a 73.
Geoff Ogilvy managed a 71, while defending champion Stuart Appleby returned a 70 after deciding only at the last minute that he was fit to play.
American Jeff Maggert also carded a 70, while Italian youngster Matteo Manassero struggled to a 76.
Nathan Green's 69 included the shot of the day when he holed his second from the fairway for eagle at the par-4 third.
Decked out in lilac tartan trousers, lilac sweater and matching lilac shoes, the dashing Poulter dropped a shot at his second hole, the 11th, when he three-putted from 20 feet. But he made up for that one blemish with seven birdies, four on the front and three on the back, for his 65, which put him one shot clear of Hall.
Poulter was still finding his way around Victoria after playing it for the first time in Wednesday's pro-am, but declared himself happy with the course.
"I enjoy playing that kind of golf," Poulter said following his round. "A number of the courses we play week-in week-out, it seems like you are taking your driver headcover off on every single par 4, par 5 and the odd the par 3.
"It's nice not to do that. It's nice to hit the odd iron off the tee," he added. "So I like the way this golf course sets up for me."
Poulter's more highly-fancied fellow Englishman Donald was disappointed with his short game.
"I hit it quite well on the back nine but (on) my front nine just made no putts," said Donald. "Two birdies, no bogeys could have been a lot worse, could have been a little bit better, but it's something to build on."
The unheralded Hall, 794th in the world rankings, began on the back nine and raced to the turn in 29, including five birdies and an eagle-3 at the short par-5 18th.
The 28-year-old winner of the 2009 Victorian Open had John Wade's eight-year-old course record of 63 in his sights before stumbling toward the end of his round. He double-bogeyed the eighth hole after leaving his second shot in the bunker.
"Through 10 holes, it could have been quite amazing really," said Hall.
Appleby had been a doubt with a chronic back injury and played with a back brace clearly visible under his black shirt. He worked for an hour on the putting green and practice range under the supervision of his coach Steve Bann and a physiotherapist before declaring himself ready to "give it a crack."
The 40-year-old managed to shrug off similar injury concerns 12 months ago to win the Australian Masters by one stroke over Adam Bland.