South Africa’s Darren Fichardt is two shots behind the co-leaders going into the second day of the Cazoo Open.
Julien Guerrier, Connor Syme and Dale Whitnell posted opening rounds of 67 to share the lead after a tricky first day of the DP World Tour event.
The trio top a bunched leaderboard after reaching four under par at The Celtic Manor Resort on Thursday afternoon, with the host course showing its teeth on day one.
Guerrier displayed impressive fighting spirit, recovering from a hat-trick of early bogeys to grab a share of the lead, while Syme briefly got to five under before dropping a shot at his closing hole, and Whitnell made four birdies and no bogeys.
Ewen Ferguson, Maximilian Kieffer, Eddie Pepperell, Marcus Armitage, Mikko Korhonen and Ivan Cantero Gutierrez were one shot back in a tie for fourth.
Fichardt is on two under (T10) after a first round that included four birdies and two bogies, with Louis de Jager on one under.
The day will live long in the memory of David Howell, who became just the third player to make 700 DP World Tour appearances.