Colsaerts starts strong at Volvo Golf Champions

Nicolas Colsaerts fired a nine-under round lead of the Volvo Golf Champions event.

He owns a four-stroke cushion after round one at the par-73 Links at Fancourt.

The field is an exclusive one with only winners from last year's European Tour schedule, winners from the first two events of 2012 and current tour members under the age of 50 with more than 10 victories.

Last week's Joburg Open winner Branden Grace, Thomas Aiken and Tom Lewis share second place at five-under 68.

Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen, David Horsey and Joost Luiten are tied for fifth at four-under-par 69.

Everyone is chasing Colsaerts, a Belgian who gained entry into the field this week thanks to his victory at last year's China Open.

Colsaerts broke into red figures with a 12-foot birdie putt at the second, then dropped a shot four holes later. He polished off his front nine with consecutive birdies at eight and nine.

Those back-to-back birdies before the turn kicked off an amazing run. He birdied 10 and 11 for four birdies in a row, then, after a par at the 12th, birdied the 13th.

Colsaerts parred the 14th hole, but got into the clubhouse in grand style.

He knocked his approach to six feet to set up birdie at the 15th. Colsaerts drained a putt of similar length for birdie at No. 16 and tallied his third straight birdie at the par-three 17th.

Colsaerts, now three shots ahead at eight-under par, two-putted from 35 feet at the par-five closing hole to sign for his nine-under 64.

"This is probably the best of my life. It's a serious test of golf," said Colsaerts. "I think the longest putt I holed was from 12 feet on the second."

Colin Montgomerie, in the field this week due to his career wins total, shot a three-under 71 and is knotted in ninth place with Matthew Zions.

The tournament is without a defending champion. Paul Casey won last year, but is out of action for at least two months after he dislocated his right shoulder in a snowboarding accident in Colorado.

Reigning British Open champion Darren Clarke only managed a one-over 74 and is tied for 24th, while last year's Masters winner, Charl Schwartzel, struggled to a two-over 75 on Thursday.

NOTES: Colsaerts led the European Tour in driving distance two years ago...This was not Colsaerts' lowest round on tour. He fired 62s in Indonesia in 2005 and the Netherlands two years ago, but both came on par-70 layouts...Ernie Els, who is still not eligible for the Masters, shot a two- under 71.