James Kingston leads the BMW PGA Championship after a tough opening day which saw Luke Donald post a six-over 78.
The 47-year-old South African, playing on a sponsor's invite after losing his card at the end of last season, carded seven birdies and one bogey to post a six-under 66 and take first day honours from early clubhouse leader Mikko Ilonen.
Ilonen had earlier survived everything the British summer could throw at him, including a brief spell of hail, to card a five-under 67 as he looked to build on a run of two second places in his last three events.
The Finn is one in front of Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Scotland's little-known Scott Henry and Austrian Martin Wiegele, who still has five holes of his first round to play after being held up by an afternoon weather interruption.
The group a shot further back on three-under includes Italy's Matteo Manassero, Dane Thomas Bjorn, South African George Coetzee, who played the last seven holes in five-under, and 2011 Wentworth winner Simon Khan.
All but one of last year's victorious Ryder Cup team are in the 150-man field, but, unlike Coetzee, several of them fell victim to the closing stretch at Wentworth - scene of the most controversial parts of Ernie Els' redesign in 2010.
England's Justin Rose - runner-up last year and beaten in a play-off in 2007 - finished bogey, double-bogey to drop from three under to level, while world number two Rory McIlroy had also been three under after 12 holes but bogeyed five of the last six to be home in 41 for a two-over 74.
McIlroy's playing partner Graeme McDowell - the pair are back on good terms after a minor disagreement over McIlroy's imminent change of management groups - also ran up a double-bogey seven on the 18th in matching McIlroy's 74 while Medinah hero Ian Poulter signed for a four-over 76 after a pair of closing bogeys.
Play was delayed for just over 90 minutes in the afternoon due to the threat of lightning although Donald may have wished the hooter had gone before he'd teed off.
The Englishman's chances of matching Colin Montgomerie's hat-trick of titles appeared to vanish with a front nine five-over 40 and he couldn't repair any of the damage after the resumption, bogeying 13 and finishing in tied 143rd on six-over.
Playing partner Sergio Garcia, trying to focus on his golf after the media storm caused by his comments about Tiger Woods, also had his problems but an eagle at the 18th saw the Spaniard sign for a level par 72.
Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Francesco Molinari are the best placed of the Ryder Cup contingent after all posted two-under 70s.