German Marcel Siem, a World Cup winner alongside Bernhard Langer three years ago, made a good start today to his bid for just a second European Tour title in more than 180 starts.
The 28-year-old, 411th in the world, stood two under par after five holes and shared the early lead with South African Ulrich Van Den Berg in the Madeira Islands Open-BPI Portugal, which this year switched to the neighbouring island of Porto Santo.
Siem birdied the 10th and 14th, while Van Den Berg, five times a winner in his home country, picked up strokes on the 12th and 15th after also setting off on the back nine of the five-year-old Seve Ballesteros-designed course.
Ireland's Michael McGeady was tied for 16th, still even after two, while Jonathan Caldwell suffered a poor start to the tournament, sitting at five over after 10 to tie for 69th.
The rest of the Irish - Damien McGrane, Michael Hoey and Simon Thornton - were to tee off during the afternoon.
English trio Andrew Butterfield, Paul Waring and Richard McEvoy were part of the group only one behind and on the same mark was former Ryder Cup star Costantino Rocca, now 52 and taking a break from the European Senior Tour to try his luck against the younger generation again.
Portugal’s Antonio Dantas made a horror start, following two opening bogeys with an eight on the 475-yard par four third and then a six at the 434-yard next. He was already eight over par.