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Kingston in front in Portugal

South Africa's James Kingston fired an under 64 on Thursday to take the first-round lead of the Portugal Masters.

Thomas Bjorn, a three-time winner this year, Gareth Maybin, Bernd Wiesberger, Simon Khan and Rhys Davies are knotted in second place at seven-under 65 at the Oceanico Victoria Golf Course.

Thursday was a great day for scoring with 105 of the 126 players who started shooting par or better.

Martin Kaymer, ranked sixth in the world, went as far as to predict the birdie barrage pre-tournament.

"The golf course seems easy, there's not a lot of rough, so I think people will see a lot of birdies," Kaymer said on Wednesday.

The German carded a five-under 67 on Thursday along with several players, including three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, Francesco Molinari and Colin Montgomerie.

Under optimum scoring conditions, it was Kingston who emerged as the best.

The South African parred his first three holes in the first round, but broke into red figures with a birdie at the par-four fourth. Kingston closed his front nine with back-to-back birdies, but that was just the start of an amazing run for the first-round leader.

"I felt I could have done a little better earlier in the round, then all of a sudden I made one or two and my tail got in the air," said Kingston, a two- time winner on the European Tour.

Kingston continued the fine form after the turn with three straight birdies. His par at the 13th ended a run of five consecutive birdies, which jumped him to six-under par for the championship.

Kingston got back to making birdies at 14 and 15 to get to eight-under par, but a bogey at the par-three 16th dropped him into a share of first place.

Kingston reclaimed sole possession of the lead at the last. He knocked his approach to 20 feet and poured in the birdie putt to leap past the logjam at seven-under-par.

"It was a really nice round of golf," said Kingston. "I played really steadily, gave myself so many chances, and it was enjoyable. I put the ball in play most of the day, gave myself some really good approach shots into the greens and hit some really good pitch shots.

"I hit some really good iron shots pretty close - five in a row which is nice and then another few coming in."

Felipe Aguilar, Thongchai Jaidee, Ross Fisher, Johan Edfors, Steve Webster, Gregory Havret, Soren Hansen, Peter Hanson and Maarten Lafeber share seventh place at six-under 66.

NOTES: Last week's Madrid Masters winner Lee Slattery posted a three-under 69 and shares 42nd place...Defending champion Richard Green of Australia shot a one-under 71 and is tied for 82nd...Graeme Storm withdrew on Thursday.