Durban, South Africa (SportsNetwork.com) - Raphael Jacquelin fired a 5-under 67 in testing conditions Thursday to earn a 1-stroke lead at the Volvo Golf Champions.
Last season's Open de Espana winner is seeking his fifth career victory on the European Tour.
"It's a new year and pretty good way for me to start, so that's great," stated Jacquelin.
Defending champion Louis Oosthuizen carded a 4-under 68 at blustery Durban Country Club to sit in second place, while Darren Clarke and Victory Dubuisson shot matching 3-under 69s to share third.
World Golf Hall of Fame member Colin Montgomery is among a group of seven players tied for fifth place at 2-under 70.
Jacquelin opened his round with five straight pars before rolling in a birdie at the sixth.
He picked up another shot at the eighth after nearly holing out his third shot for an eagle to meet clubhouse leader Simon Thornton at 2-under.
Thornton had earlier claimed the clubhouse lead at 2-under with an up-and-down round that included three bogeys, three birdies and an eagle.
Jacquelin grabbed the outright lead with a birdie at the 14th before closing with back-to-back birdies at the 17th and 18th to move three clear of the field at 5-under.
"I managed to get everything right," Jacquelin said. "A bogey-free round; that's the key, to go bogey-free every round on this course."
Oosthuizen, meanwhile, was on the course in the final group and traded a bogey at the first with a birdie at the third.
After parring his next four holes, he converted a birdie at the eighth to move into red numbers.
The former British Open winner continued to add birdies at the 11th, 14th and 17th to pull within a shot of the lead. Needing a birdie at the last to meet Jacquelin atop the leaderboard, Oosthuizen failed to find the green with his tee shot at the drivable par-4 closing hole and 2-putted for par to finish a shot off the pace.
NOTES: Jacquelin was the lone player of the day to record a bogey-free round ... The Winds on Thursday reached speeds of up to 22 miles per hour ... This is the fourth year of this event and all three previous winners are in the field. Joining Oosthuizen this week is 2011 winner Paul Casey and 2012 champ Branden Grace ... Casey owns a share of 17th place at even-par 72, while Grace is tied for 28th at 2-over 74.