FIRST ROUND LEADERBOARD
Lawrie won at Celtic Manor in 2002
GB & Ire unless stated
B Rumford (Aus),
R Gonzalez (Arg),
JM Lara (Spa),
S Kjeldsen (Den),
S Alker (NZ)
Former winner Paul Lawrie was one of eight players sharing the clubhouse lead on four under par after the Welsh Open first round at Celtic Manor.
Scotman Lawrie, who took the title at the same venue in 2002, finished on 65.
Also atop the leaderboard was England's Paul Broadhurst, four days after slumping to an 80 when sharing the lead in the PGA Championship.
But favourite Retief Goosen, Colin Montgomerie and Anders Hansen were not even in the top 75 after rounds of 70.
Scots Gary Orr and Steven O'Hara, Spain's Jose Manuel Lara, Australian Brett Rumford, New Zealander Steve Alker, Argentina's Ricardo Gonzalez and Dane Soren Kjeldsen all finished on 65.
I don't think I've actually been playing that poorly, but I haven't been knocking them in as I'd want to
Lawrie, 38, credited a return to another happy hunting ground as inspiration for his strong start.
By missing seven of his last nine halfway cuts he has dropped back outside the world's top 250, is 132nd on the European Order of Merit and is no longer exempt for all the majors in America.
But he was in form at Carnoustie, scene of his 1999 Open triumph, on a company day on Monday before travelling to Wales.
"I was six under after 14 on Monday using a new putter and holed a good few eight to 10-footers with it today," he said after play on Thursday.
"I don't think I've actually been playing that poorly, but I haven't been knocking them in as I'd want to.
"I always enjoy coming here. The hotel is one of the nicest we stay in on Tour, I feel comfortable and I have had a good record."