DAVID Horsey even surprised himself with a stunning 61 to head a star-studded field after day one of the Saudi International on the European Tour.

Horsey, who lives in Wilmslow and is attched to Styal Golf Club, reached the turn at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in two under par and fired seven birdies in the space of eight holes in a back nine of 28 to finish nine under.

It leaves the 35-year-old a shot ahead of Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher.

US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau is four shots off the lead after an opening 65, with world number one Dustin Johnson two strokes further back alongside the likes of Lee Westwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter and Danny Willett.

Horsey, who had missed the cut in his first two events of the year, said: “It’s a shock actually.

"I’ve been playing rubbish the last couple of weeks. Didn’t feel like I controlled my ball the first two events.

“I had a conversation with a pal back home last night (Wednesday), talking a few things through and he suggested something that I work on away from the tournament. I thought, well, can’t get any worse, so I may as well try it and here we are.”

Horsey needed to eagle the par-five 18th on the par-70 layout to record the second 59 in European Tour history, but had to settle for par after almost pulling his approach into the water to the left of the green.

“It was really on my mind if I’m honest with you,” added Horsey, whose last tournament victory came in 2015. “If it (the 18th) was reachable, maybe more so.

“I had a little conversation with myself going down 16. I wanted to make birdie there and sort of added it up and realised I can’t really reach 18 in two. So I think realistically there were two good birdie chances, I managed to birdie 17 and made a bit of a hash of the last.”

Horsey considers Styal Golf Club his home base, having grown up making use of the club's facilities.

Career highlights since turning professional are his quartet of European Tour triumphs – the 2010 BMW International Open in Germany, the 2011 Hassan Trophy in Morocco, the 2014 Russian Open and 2015 Made in Denmark tournament.

Before joining the paid ranks he was the 2005 Greek Amateur Championship winner and runner-up in the 2004 English Amateur Championship, while he represented Great Britain and Ireland at the Walker Cup alongside high-profile Rory McIlroy and Danny Willett at Royal County Down in 2007 prior to turning pro.

It was in his first full season on the Challenge Tour in 2008, when he recorded victories at the Telenet Trophy and the AGF-Allianz EurOpen de Lyon along with seven other top-10 finishes, that he not only qualified for his first ‘major’ at Royal Birkdale but ended the year on top of the rankings to graduate to the European Tour for 2009 and has been a mainstay ever since.

Horsey, who enjoyed his highest Order of Merit finish in 29th in 2016, was also a member of the successful Great Britain and Ireland team which retained the Seve Vivendi Trophy in 2011.