Graeme Storm fired a 7-under 63 on Thursday to take the opening-round lead of the KLM Open at Hilversumsche Golf Club.
Storm is two clear of three players, including one who desperately needs to regain some form before the Ryder Cup.
Martin Kaymer, the former world No. 1, who is down to 29th, shot a 5-under 65 and was joined in second by Fabrizio Zanotti and Raphael Jacquelin.
Kaymer has three top 10s this year, but none since the week after the Masters. He hung on and earned the final automatic Ryder Cup berth and played well Thursday with his captain, Jose Maria Olazabal, in the same group.
"Two years ago when I won here was very nice, but that was a period of time I could have played golf with my eyes closed," admitted Kaymer, who won in 2010. "Now is a different time when I need to work and it takes a lot of energy and a lot of concentration. I really need to focus on the things on the range. Two years ago it was more automatic."
Storm started on the 10th tee Thursday and flew out of the gate with birdies at 11 and 12. He parred his next three, then birdied two of his last three to make the turn in 4-under 31.
Storm parred his first four holes on the second nine, then joined the group in the lead at 5-under with a birdie at the par-3 fifth.
The Englishman birdied Nos. 7 and 8 to pull clear of the trio at 5-under. Storm parred his last for the first-round lead.
"I made the birdies when I gave myself the chances and got up and down when I missed the greens," said Storm. "The golf course here is fantastic - the best I have ever seen it - so you have to hit it straight and that is what I did.
"You can get punished round here, but I played the best I have probably played all year. I'm just happy to get a round like that under my belt after recent months."
This year has been a struggle both on, and off the course for Storm, whose only European Tour victory came at the 2007 Open de France.
"I've had a tough run and it's all been a bit of a struggle. I've just not been enjoying it. I lost my grandfather on the Wednesday morning of Germany (in June) and since then I have really struggled. I kind of kept it to myself what happened, but it hit me really hard."
Kaymer's Ryder Cup teammate, Peter Hanson, posted a 4-under 66 and is tied for fifth with Felipe Aguilar, Craig Lee, Danny Willett, Steve Webster and Alejandro Canizares.
Paul Casey, who has made only one cut worldwide since the Ballantine's Championship in late April, carded a 3-under 67 and is part of a group tied for 11th.
Nicolas Colsaerts, who was one of Olazabal's picks for the Ryder Cup, rounded out the threesome with his captain and Kaymer and shot an even-par 70 on Thursday.
NOTES: Olazabal shot a 1-over 71 in round one...Three of his assistants are in the field this week with Miguel Angel Jimenez tied for 27th at 69, Darren Clarke in 105th at plus-2 and Paul McGinley tied for 132nd at 4-over par...Defending champion Simon Dyson carded an even-par 70...Last week's European Masters winner Richie Ramsay struggled to a 1-over 71.