Li Haotong carded a brilliant 64 to thrill the home crowds and open up a one shot lead after the first round of the WGC-HSBC Champions.
The World Number 59 announced himself to the world with a top ten at Sheshan International Golf Club in 2015 and since then has gone on to claim two European Tour wins.
He made seven birdies and an eagle as he got to eight under on day one in Shanghai, becoming the first Chinese player to lead a World Golf Championships event after the opening round, from Frenchman Victor Perez.
Perez was making his WGC debut after claiming a maiden European Tour victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last month and he carded two eagles en route to a 65.
England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, defending champion Xander Schauffele, Australian Adam Scott and South Korea’s Sungjae Im were at six under, a shot clear of World Number Two Rory McIlroy, Austrian Matthias Schwab and Canadian Corey Conners.
Li entered the week 23rd on the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex but a first WGC victory would put him right into the mix to be crowned Europe’s Number One heading into the final three Rolex Series events of the season.
McIlroy came home in 31 to fly up the leaderboard, with Schwab birdieing four of his last five in a late move of his own.
South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen made the 28th hole-in-one of the season on the sixth as he got to four under alongside Abraham Ancer, Danny Willett and Zhang Xinjun.
Li Haotong: “Today is a pretty good start and good beginning. Obviously it would be a great joy for Chinese golfers and Chinese golf fans to have a Chinese player winning a WGC-HSBC Champions here in China but for the next three days, anything could happen.
“So I don’t want to think too much about it. I just want to focus and concentrate on the upcoming three days because anything can happen. I just wanted to do a good job to keep this momentum going for the next three days.
“I don’t feel quite well with my status and my momentum because in the previous tournament, I wasn’t really playing that well. But I never expected today, that I had such a great round today in day one.”
Victor Perez: “It was a great day for me. Very pleased with how I played. I think I did a lot of things well today and I’m obviously in a great position after day one.
“Obviously the end of the year has been going quite well since the win at Dunhill. A couple of good weeks in Italy and France. It can always be better, but after win, you could go either way. You could really ride it or have a little bit of a downfall from it.
“I did well, coming in here with a lot of confidence and the course suits me fairly well. It’s long. The greens are going to be firm this week and obviously having JP helped a lot, as well today.”
Rory McIlroy: “I think it’s momentum. Sometimes you feel it a little more than other times and definitely got to momentum on that back nine today, and tried to sort of ride that momentum to the very end. It would have been nice to pick up one more, had a good chance for birdie, but after the start today, to shoot five under, I’m not complaining.
“Looking at the leaderboard and looking at the scores that have been shot, it definitely was scorable. There was no wind, so it was a day to take advantage of the conditions. It looks like the conditions are going to stay that way for the next few days, but it’s nice, the last few tournaments I’ve played, I’ve had a bad opening round and then been trying to play catch up. At least now, I’m right in the thick of things from the start, which is a better place to be.”
Round one scores
64 L Haotong (Chn) ,
65 V Perez (Fra) ,
66 X Schauffele (USA) , M Fitzpatrick (Eng) , A Scott (Aus) , S Im (Kor) ,
67 C Conners (Can) , R McIlroy (Nir) , M Schwab (Aut) ,
68 L Oosthuizen (RSA) , A Ancer (Mex) , Z Xinjun (Chn) , D Willett (Eng) ,
69 M Millar (Aus) , C Reavie (USA) , J Kokrak (USA) , C Bezuidenhout (RSA) , J Rose (Eng) , Y Yechun (Chn) , B An (Kor) , M Wallace (Eng) , R Ishikawa (Jpn) , B Horschel (USA) , J Poston (USA) , T Finau (USA) ,
70 Y Asaji (Jpn) , B Hebert (Fra) , J Janewattananond (Tha) , J Luiten (Ned) , N Schietekat (RSA) , C Smith (Aus) , M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) , J Spieth (USA) , J McLeod (Aus) , B Wiesberger (Aut) , B Watson (USA) , B Easton (RSA) , K Kitayama (USA) , H Stenson (Swe) , R Macintyre (Sco) ,
71 A Pavan (Ita) , D Zecheng (Chn) , A Putnam (USA) , K Tway (USA) , J Kruger (RSA) , P Mickelson (USA) , C Kim (USA) ,
72 M Kawamura (Jpn) , S Garcia (Esp) , P Reed (USA) , R Sterne (RSA) , T Hatton (Eng) , K Kisner (USA) , S Lowry (Irl) ,
73 P Waring (Eng) , B Zheng-Kai (Chn) , K Bradley (USA) , J Campillo (Esp) , Z Lombard (RSA) , L Glover (USA) , E Van Rooyen (RSA) , R Cabrera Bello (Esp) , I Poulter (Eng) ,
74 L Wenchong (Chn) , M Horikawa (Jpn) , A Hadwin (Can) , T Fleetwood (Eng) , F Molinari (Ita) , C Howell Iii (USA) ,
75 S Hend (Aus) , T Lee (Kor) , J Harding (RSA) , R Langasque (Fra) , P Casey (Eng) , H Matsuyama (Jpn) ,
76 Y Chang (Kor) ,
77 D Nisbet (Aus) ,
80 W Ashun (Chn) ,