Sutton Coldfield:Martin Erlandsson shot a 9-under 63 on Thursday to take the lead after the first round of the British Masters. The Swede leads Jarmo Sandelin and Richard Sterne by two strokes.
"I don't think I missed a single shot today. I was spot-on with my swing," said Erlandsson, who was 7 under on his final nine holes.
Soren Kjeldsen (66) three-putted his final hole and was tied fourth with Raphael Jacquelin. Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, playing his first tournament as a professional, shot a bogey-free 69, including chip-ins at the 11th and 12th holes after beginning his round at the 10th.
Other notable players in the field include Lee Westwood (68), Colin Montgomerie (70), Paul McGinley (70), Robert Karlsson (71), David Howell (72) and Darren Clarke (74).
Erlandsson, a four-year Tour player, had his best finish at the 2005 Wales Open and missed the halfway cut at the British Masters last year.
"I've tightened up my swing. I used to have a weak fade that did not always work, particularly in the wind," the Swede said.
He birdied his first hole, the 10th, and then the 12th from 35 feet, his longest putt of the day. But Erlandsson excelled on his second nine, starting with an eagle at the long third where he chipped in from 20 feet. He birdied the fourth and the last four holes.
Sandelin, who lost his playing card in 2005 and regained it last year, birdied the first two holes and five of the last nine of the 7,223-yard course at The Belfry.
He said he could not walk for three days last weekend because of the cramp in his lower back, but after some physiotherapy, he was better.
"I felt I never had the problem," said Sandelin, who capped his round with a 30-foot putt on the last hole.
Sterne, this year's Wales Open champion, eagled the third hole from 15 feet and made two 20-foot birdie putts on the back nine to move alongside Sandelin.
As an amateur at the British Open, McIlroy shot a 68 in the first round and ended up finishing 42nd.
On Thursday, he parred the opening hole, the short par-4 10th over a lake, and then saved par with a 40-foot chip-in at the 11th. He birdied the 12th with another chip-in, this time from 30 feet.