SHEFFIELD'S Matt Fitzpatrick used a fast start as the foundation to build a four-under-par 68 opening round at the Thailand Golf Championship at the Amata Spring Country Club on Thursday.
The British Masters champion is tied for seventh, five shots back of leader Jamie Donaldson, of Wales, who shot a sizzling nine-under-par 63.
Fitzpatrick had three birdies in his first four holes and, after stumbling to a bogey at eight, book-ended seven pars on the back nine with birdies at holes 10 and 18.
Donaldson carded nine birdies and no bogeys to take pole position at the $1m Asian Tour event.
Thailand’s Chanat Sakulpolphaisan, a recent Asian Development Tour winner, and Chinnarat Phadungsil spearheaded the home charge by returning matching 66s to share second place with Spain’s Sergio Garcia.
Donaldson, who is making his debut at the Thailand Golf Championship, had four birdies to turn in 32, then followed with birdies on holes 10, 14, 15, 17 and 18.
The Welshman said: “I played really good all day and I couldn’t really do anything wrong. I just need to continue this form for the next few days and not concentrate on things that are out of my control or ahead of me.
“I just want to stay in the present as they say and take it one day at a time."
Garcia, who won in Vietnam last week, came home in 31 after mixing two birdies and a bogey for an outward 35.
After dropping another shot on 10, he roared back with six further birdies to sit three shots back of Donaldson.
“I’m definitely happy. It was a wonderful back nine and I’m obviously delighted with shooting five under there," said Garcia.
“I am feeling good. It hit some very good shots throughout the day and I feel like I’m in a good position going into the next day."