English Ryder Cup hopefuls Paul Casey, Luke Donald and Nick Dougherty stormed into a share of the lead on day one of the PGA Championship at Wentworth.
FIRST ROUND LEADERBOARD
(GB and Ire unless stated)
-5 Casey, Donald, Dougherty, McLardy (SA)
-4 Cabrera (Arg), Howell, Jacquelin (Fra), Pa Lawrie
-3 Els (SA), Olazabal (Sp), Poulter
+1 C Montgomerie, D Clarke
The trio were joined by South African Andrew McLardy at five-under par following rounds of 67.
The leaders are one clear of defending champion Angel Cabrera, David Howell, Raphael Jacquelin and Peter Lawrie.
Ernie Els, who remodelled the course, is a shot behind while Scotland's Colin Montgomerie struggled to a round of 73.
Donald, the current world number 10, produced a near-perfect round with five birdies and not a single dropped shot. And he praised Els' course changes, insisting it did not "play too difficult".
But Casey was perhaps the most impressive finisher of the leaders after a birdie at the 17th and an eagle at the par-five last.
Dougherty, meanwhile, looked set for a steady round early on before a blitz of five birdies on the back nine.
A shot back, Howell, the European Order of Merit leader, defied a "dodgy" back to card his round of 68.
The old course, conditions like these, I think you would have seen a 64
And another further down the order, was Els, a Wentworth resident, who had altered 17 of the West Course's 18 holes.
"It was a good test but if you played properly today, you'd shoot under par," said the South African, who has not won a tournament since the Dunhill Championship last December.
He also argued the old course, prior to his changes, would have led to low scoring on Thursday.
"The old course, conditions like these, I think you would have seen a 64," he added. "Today was your scoring opportunity."
While Els flourished, Montgomerie, who has missed seven of his last nine cuts, stuttered once more, struggled to his 73.
The Scot had got himself into red numbers with a birdie on the 11th but he then bogeyed the 13th and 15th to fall back to one over par.
Monty's former Ryder Cup team-mate Darren Clarke incurred a one-shot penalty after he dropped his ball on his marker, which flipped over.
The Ulsterman asked the referee if there was a penalty and he was told there was none. But that was later over-ruled by chief referee John Paramor.