Rory McIlroy is five under par and Shane Lowry is even par after their opening rounds at the World Golf Championship HSBC Champions in China.
Local favourite Haotong Li leads on eight under after a round of 64 in Shanghai, a lead of one after the first round.
Former world number one McIlroy was in a share of seventh after saying on Wednesday he wanted to end a four-year wait for a World Golf Championships victory.
Starting on the back nine, McIlroy mixed three bogeys and three birdies in an inconsistent start.
But five birdies in the nine holes after the turn, including four in a row from the second, left him five under, three off the lead.
A six-under-par 66 left Matthew Fitzpatrick in joint-third place, after the 27th-ranked English golfer got seven birdies and just one bogey in the first 18 holes.
France’s Victor Perez was second, with South Korea’s Sungjae Im and Australian Adam Scott alongside Fitzpatrick in third.
South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen provided the highlight of the first round with a hole in one at the sixth, his 15th hole, on his way to four under and a share of 10th.