Ewen Ferguson set the course record at Galgorm Castle Golf Club with a spotless 61 to lead by four shots after the first round of the ISPS Handa World Invitational.
The talented Scot carded two eagles on the back nine on Thursday afternoon, as well as firing five birdies to lead the way on nine under par and break the previous course record by a single shot.
The first of Ferguson’s eagles came at the 10th, where he holed his fiddly bunker shot, while the second was from the end of the 18th fairway.
Ferguson’s nearest challengers were Felix Palson, Borja Virto and Richard Bland, who all shot their 65s at Massereene.
South Africans Thomas Aiken and Wilco Nienaber both shot bogey-free rounds of four-under 66 that included four birdies, while Bryce Easton is a further shot behind.
This week’s event in Northern Ireland is tri-sanctioned by the DP World Tour, Ladies European Tour and LPGA Tour, with separate male and female tournaments being played on the same two courses at the same time and for two equal prize funds of $1.5-million each.
American Amanda Doherty, also playing at Galgorm Castle on day one, led the women’s tournament on six under after making seven birdies and a single bogey in her 67.
– Edited DP World Tour website report