Michael Hoey and Darren Clarke have ground to make up on the leaders after the opening round of the Tshwane Open in South Africa.
Hoey opened with a level par 70 while Ryder Cup captain Clarke was a shot further back on one over par.
The highlight of Hoey’s round was an eagle at the par five 12th but he failed to capitalise and is currently tied 52nd.
Clarke, who has taken on an ambassadorial role with the Tswhane Open, carded a one over par 71 that included three bogeys and just two birdies.
Meanwhile, Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen shot a hole-in-one in a remarkable eagle-eagle finish to claim a share of the lead.
England’s David Horsey matched his seven-under-par 63 to join him at the top of the leaderboard after the first round at Pretoria Country Club.
Australian Brett Rumford, playing on invitation, and South Africa’s Wallie Coetsee were in a tie for third on six under.
The dramatic close to Madsen’s round captured the most attention.
The 26-year-old’s ace on the eighth - his 17th - was the 20th on the European Tour already this season and he followed up by taking three at the par-five ninth.
Madsen, who was third at the Africa Open last week, said: “The last couple of weeks I’ve been hitting some shots really close and I actually said to my caddy last week that a hole-in-one is on the cards pretty soon.
“Luckily for me it came today. I hit a fantastic shot, I couldn’t hit it better, and it spun back into the hole. That was only my second hole-in-one and it’s really special to have one in competition on The European Tour.”
Horsey played a more steady round, carding seven birdies in a bogey-free performance.
Coetsee’s 64 was notable for his chipping in for eagle at 12th and for one of his five birdies at the 17th.
France’s Raphael Jacquelin was one of four players on five under while last week’s winner Trevor Fisher Jnr was among 10 a shot further back after a 66.
Defending champion Ross Fisher was six shots off the lead on one under.
Ireland’s Damien McGrane opened his bid with a five over par 75 and will have to go low today if he hopes to make the cut.
In amateur news, the The University of Ulster’s reign as Irish Colleges Match Play champions came to a close at Woodbrook GC yesterday.
Both the Gold and Navy teams were defeated by UCD and UCC respectively.
In the Intervarsity Plate semi-final series, Queens University and IT Carlow advanced to the final by finishing first and second in the stableford repechage.