Big-hitter Nicolas Colsaerts equaled his lowest score on the European Tour Thursday with an opening 8-under-par 62 in the KLM Open.
The 27-year-old from Brussels birdied five of the last six holes for an inward 29 and a two-stroke lead over England’s Kenneth Ferrie and India’s Shiv Kapur.
Three members of Europe's Ryder Cup team are using the event as part of their preparation for Celtic Manor, and Irish Open champion Ross Fisher did best with a 65 -- helped by holing a bunker shot for an eagle 3 on the 499-yard 18th.
Germany’s Martin Kaymer, returning to action four weeks after becoming golf's newest major champion at the PGA Championship, had a 67, while Italian Francesco Molinari shot 68.
Colsaerts, who leads the Tour's driving distance category this season with an average of almost 309 yards, has made six trips to the qualifying school since turning professional a decade ago. But he graduated from the "second division" Challenge Tour for the second time last year and, at 68th on the money list, this is shaping up to be his best season.
"I have been working quite a bit on my putting and it's a lot easier when you are playing well rather than when you have your back against the wall," he said.
Ferrie's five-year exemption for winning the 2005 European Open expires in November and the 31-year-old is precariously placed at 110th on the standings. Only the top 115 keep their cards. A birdie-eagle at 17 and 18 was welcome indeed him -- and it meant that with a 64 he also matched his career-low round.
Kapur, the 28-year-old son of a New Delhi stockbroker, also picked up three shots in the last two holes.
Alongside Fisher in a tie for fourth place are fellow Englishman Nick Dougherty, Scot Richie Ramsay, Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin, Dutchman Joost Luiten, Portugal's Jose-Filipe Lima and Argentina's Tano Goya.
Among those one further back is 2004 British Open champion Todd Hamilton, who after losing his card in America has made only one halfway cut in six European Tour starts. He pitched in for a 2 on the 343-yard second and finished with another eagle.
South African Louis Oosthuizen, winner of the Claret Jug this July, struggled to a 3-over 73.
Colsearts was among the early starters, who benefited from the greens rolling smoothly after heavy overnight rain. Kaymer and Molinari had it tougher as they played in the afternoon.