FIRST ROUND LEADERBOARD:
(GB & Irl unless stated)
-5 D Frost (SA), T Bjorn (Den), N Dougherty, A McLean
-4 T Remkes (Ned), P Larrazabal (Sp), F Zanotti (Par) -3 T Dykes, I Garrido (Sp), R Green (Aus), M Lafeber (Ned), C Macaulay, J McCreadie, P McGinley, G Orr, R Ramsay, R Rock, L Slattery
-2 Pe Lawrie, S Khan, C Montgomerie -1 R Fisher, M-A Jimenez (Sp) +1 C Pavin (US), D Howell +6 S Lowry
Bjorn may be at the Ryder Cup as one of Montgomerie's assistants
Thomas Bjorn showed the kind of form he hopes to repeat if he qualifies for next year's Ryder Cup by taking a share of the lead in the Wales Open.
The Dane shot five-under 66 at Celtic Manor and was tied with David Frost, Alan McLean and Nick Dougherty.
One shot behind them were Taco Remkes, Pablo Larrazabal and Fabrizio Zannotti.
The venue hosts the 2010 Ryder Cup, and European team captain Colin Montgomerie ended day one two under, three shots ahead of US counterpart Corey Pavin.
Bjorn, likely to be one of Montgomerie's assistants next year, played in the Ryder Cup in 1997 and 2002 but has gone off the boil in the last couple of years.
"If I don't make the team I am happy to help, but if I am then I will obviously play," he said.
The 38-year-old's playing fortunes have improved recently after he decided to stop listening to other people and analyse his own game to see how he could improve.
The benefits have been clear to see, with a third-place finish in the Spanish Open and a sixth-place finish and three top-25s elsewhere.
If I don't get into the team Pavin will know there are 12 better than me
"I'd been waking up and not looking forward to getting out there," said Bjorn, who is chairman of Europe's Ryder Cup committee.
"When you don't know where the ball is going and you're not focused it's not enjoyable."
And he said it gave him extra satisfaction to produce such a display with Pavin watching.
"I hope it did impress him. And if I don't get into the team he'll know there are 12 better than me," he said.
Ireland's Paul McGinley, who is Bjorn's counterpart as captain in the Vivendi Trophy (formerly the Seve Trophy) and another vice-captaincy candidate, also showed some good form as he tries to relaunch his Ryder Cup playing career.
McGinley, who holed the winning putt at the Belfry in 2002 and also played in 2004 and 2006, recovered from a triple-bogey seven on his second hole to end three under on the Twenty Ten course.
"I really want to make the team," said the 42-year-old, who stood down as an assistant to 2008 captain Nick Faldo because he felt it was a distraction to his playing career.
"I think Monty is going to be a great captain and I would love to play under him.
"Monty is going to announce who his vice-captains are going to be after qualifying finishes. Obviously he's picked myself and Thomas to be involved in the Vivendi (Seve Trophy) and I don't think you have to put one and one together.
Horrendous - I don't know what happened
"I'm obviously in his mind somewhere in terms of those four people he's going to have, but I'm a lot more comfortable trying to make the team this year and whatever happens after that happens.
"That's when I'll be able to make a decision, but in the meantime it's gung-ho trying to make the team."
Ireland's Shane Lowry, who began his professional career with a six-over 78 last week, is in danger of a second successive missed cut after a six-over 77.
"Horrendous - I don't know what happened," said the 22-year-old, whose Irish Open victory three weeks ago made him only the third amateur to win a European Tour event.
"I thought I played well in the pro-am, but I never got going. I was in about 10 bunkers and it's very difficult when you are doing that."
The day's play earned a place in the record books for equalling the Tour record of three holes-in-one.
One of them fell to Spaniard Larrazabal to earn him a share of fifth place, while Jeev Milkha Singh and Mads Vibe-Hastrup also scored aces.