Former champion Ross Fisher and two-time major winner Martin Kaymer defied tough conditions to set the clubhouse target in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on Thursday.
Despite playing in the heaviest of the rain showers which lashed the K Club, Fisher carded fired seven birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey to card a three-under-par 69, a score matched by Ryder Cup hero Kaymer thanks a superb finish.
After starting from the 10th and failing to birdie any of the three par fives on the back nine, Kaymer was one over par with seven holes remaining before the former world number one followed a birdie on the third with an eagle on the fourth and another birdie on the ninth.
Home favourite Shane Lowry, who won the title in 2009 while still an amateur, carded five birdies and four bogeys to finish two off the pace on one under, with former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley another shot back.
Fisher, whose last win came in the Tshwane Open in 2014, said: "I'm delighted. I played some really good golf apart from finding the water on the 16th for my double bogey, but I bounced back nicely and to shoot three under in the conditions we had this morning, I'm really, really pleased.
"I always enjoy coming here and although it's a different course from where I won, I was excited to come back because I'd played the other course and after seeing the Ryder Cup in 2006 I was looking forward to playing."
Tournament host Rory McIlroy was among the later starters as he looked to end a streak of three straight missed cuts in his home event, the world number three also seeking a first win of the season after six top-10 finishes.
Players and caddies were wearing black ribbons as a mark of respect to former Ryder Cup star Christy O'Connor Snr, who died last week at the age of 91.