Shenzhen, China, March 18 - Japan's Yuki Shino set a blistering pace on the opening day of the ninth Faldo Series Asia Grand Final.
The talented 17-year-old threw down the gauntlet to his rivals in the elite 82-player field with a four-under-par 68 over the acclaimed Nick Faldo-designed Faldo Course at Mission Hills Shenzhen.
Playing aggressively, Shino scattered six birdies and an eagle-two at the short par-four 15th to offset two bogeys and one double-bogey.
Six-time Major champion Sir Nick Faldo, Britain's most successful golfer, said: "What an explosive performance from Yuki! If he maintains that form then he's going to be the player to beat."
Shino, who secured his starting place here after emerging victorious in the Faldo Series Japan Championship, attacked from the outset, picking up shots at each of the first three holes.
Bidding to follow in the footsteps of Masamichi Ito and Mikumu Horikawa and become the third Japanese winner of the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final in the past four years, Shino reached the turn in one-under 35. Showing no signs of nerves, he covered the back nine in three-under 33.
Thanks to that effort, Shino will take a one-stroke lead over Indonesian Fadhli Rahman Soetarso and Chinese Taipei's Tsai Kai-jen into Thursday's second round in the 54-hole event.
Underlining the quality of the field, a total of 11 players bettered par, including Indonesian Tirto Tamardi and American Zachary Bauchou [both 70] and Simon Zach from the Czech Republic and Brazilian Rohan Boettcher [both 71].
Bauchou, Zach and Boettcher all qualified via the Faldo Series Europe Grand Final.
Leading the female challenge is Shino's compatriot Minami Hiruta. The reigning Japan Women's Amateur champion is tied for fourth after carding a two-under 70 – two strokes ahead of Malaysian Nur Durriyah Damian, Chinese Taipei's Wu Yi-ching, Princess Mary Superal of the Philippines and New Zealand's Brooke Hamilton.
Hamilton produced the shot of the day with a hole-in-one at the island green, par-three 16th hole.
Meanwhile, Yan Liu and Liang En Qi both returned 74s to lead the way in the race to win the Mission Hills Trophy, awarded to the leading golfer from the People's Republic.
As well as receiving the Faldo Series Asia trophy, the overall winner will be granted an exemption into an Asian Tour event. The Girls' winner will be given a start in a Ladies European Tour event.
Both will also earn themselves an overseas trip to compete in the Faldo Series Europe Grand Final.
Supported by The R&A and Mission Hills and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2014-15 Faldo Series Asia campaign has stretched over 11 months and has been made up of 18 championships.
Recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls, the Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006.
Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching more than 7,000 golfers each year. Past winners include Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, who took his tally of professional Major titles to four with his wins at last year's Open Championship and US PGA Championship.
Scores of the Indonesian contingent:
69 - Fadhli Rahman Soetarso (Boys U18, 2nd), 2nd overall
70 - Tirto Tamardi (Boys U16, 2nd), 4th overall
77 - Faraby Ali (Boys U21, 9th), 45th overall
79 - Ida Ayu Melati (Girls U21, 10th), 55th overall
80 - Rivani Adeia Sihotang (Girls U16, 7th), 61st overall