Four-time European Tour champion Alex Cejka of Germany has upstaged a star-filled field with an eight-under 64 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Thailand Golf Championship.
The 43-year-old Cejka rolled in his eighth birdie of the day on the 17th hole on Thursday to take the sole lead from Justin Rose, who was already in the clubhouse after a bogey-free round.
With some of golf’s biggest names playing in the Asian Tour event this week, few had expected Cejka to be atop the leaderboard.
His last European Tour win came in 2002, and he finished 12th in Hong Kong last week.
“I hit the ball very well today,” Cejka said.
“The greens roll perfect.
“I took a couple of big chances and made birdies and I hope my form will continue like this and we will see how it goes in the next three rounds.”
The fourth-ranked Rose was tied for second with Arnond Vongvanij of Thailand after picking up three birdies on the front nine before adding four more on the back at the Amata Spring Country Club.
“I felt like I was reading the green well and my putting felt really sharp,” Rose said.
“But you have to stay out of the roughs on this course.”
Defending champion Charl Schwartzel was in a tie for sixth with Sergio Garcia and two others after a 68.
Third-ranked Henrik Stenson and former Masters champion Bubba Watson both started with a 70 to sit tied for 15th, as did Rickie Fowler.