Marbella - Italian teenager Matteo Manassero boosted his hopes of qualifying for next month's Masters with a 64 that equaled the course record on Thursday's opening day of the Andalucia Open.
Manassero birdied his closing two holes for a total of nine birdies and just one bogey in fine scoring conditions on the undulating Aloha course near Marbella.
It is the 18-year-old golfer's second lowest round after recording an 8 under 62 during the 2010 Hong Kong Open.
"It was a very good round and I played very solid as I didn't miss much ... and made about 90 percent of my birdie chances I had and that was the key," Manassero said.
"I liked this course the first time I saw it as it suits my game as strategy is very important and it's a course where I only used the driver four times."
Manassero also recorded just 24 putts to match the score England's Lee Westwood recorded in the second round on his way to victory in the 2007 event.
Manassero arrived on Spain's Costa del Sol lying 63rd in the rankings. He needs to make the top 50 at the end of competition on April 1 to be assured of returning to Augusta National for just a second time, since making his debut as an amateur in 2010.
"Of course, Augusta is on my mind as I would love to be going back to compete in the Masters," he said.
"But I will probably need to win either this week or next week in Morocco to have the chance of getting myself back into the top 50 in the world."
South African Henni Otto and Spaniard Eduardo de la Riva were next best with 67s.
Tournament host Miguel Angel Jimenez, who played alongside Manassero, recorded a 69.
Leading and selected first round
scores at the Andalucia Open at the Aloha GC, Andalucia, Spain on
Thursday (GBR/IRL unless stated, par 72):
64 - Matteo Manassero (ITA)
67 - Anthony Wall, Hennie Otto (RSA), Niclas Fasth (SWE), Eduardo De La Riva (ESP), Lloyd Kennedy
68 - Alex Haindl (RSA), Mike Weir (CAN), Tommy Fleetwood, Joakim Lagergren (SWE), Julien Quesne (FRA), Pablo Larrazabal (ESP)
- Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (FRA), Robert Jan Derksen (NED), Damien McGrane,
Marcel Siem (GER), Phillip Price, Jaco Van Zyl (RSA), Darren Fichardt
(RSA), Robert Rock, Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP), Ignacio Garrido (ESP),
Mark Foster, Marcus Fraser (AUS), Michael Hoey
70 - David Horsey,
Javi Colomo (ESP), Andrew Dodt (AUS), David Lynn, Raphael Jacquelin
(FRA), Ignacio Elvira Mijares (ESP), Simon Khan, Graeme Storm, Gary
Boyd, Jordi Garcia (ESP), Andrea Pavan (ITA), Alejandro Canizares (ESP),
Santiago Luna (ESP), Gregory Bourdy (FRA), Pedro Oriol (ESP), Fredrik
Andersson Hed (SWE)
71 - Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia (IND), Brett Rumford (AUS)
72 - Jeev Milkha Singh (IND)
73 - Warren Abery (RSA), Colin Montgomerie, Keith Horne (RSA), Richard Sterne (RSA)
74 - James Kingston (RSA)
75 - Michael Campbell (NZL), Matthew Zions (AUS), Jbe Kruger (RSA)