Ernie Els shot a 9-under 63, making an eagle and seven birdies, on Thursday to hold the clubhouse lead in the opening round of the BMW International Open.
The South African, who won the British Open in 2002 and 2012 and the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997, almost had a second eagle on the last hole that would have equaled a course record.
He settled for a birdie that gave him the overall lead.
''It doesn't really mean much until Sunday. But getting into the race - so to speak - early on in the tournament is nice, to be right in the hunt,'' Els said.
Els is one stroke ahead of Matthew Baldwin of England, Alex Noren of Sweden, Robert-Jan Derksen of the Netherlands, and Martin Kaymar, who delighted the home crowd by finishing in the afternoon with three successive birdies, nine in all.
''I had a lot of chances on the back nine and I pretty much made all of them,'' said the German.
Baldwin and Noren both holed eight birdies in the morning, while Derksen had six, as well as an eagle.