Danny, Rafa tied at the top

Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Englishman Danny Willett share a two-shot lead at the BMW International Open in Germany.

The pair both carded eight-under-par 64s in near-perfect conditions at Golf Club Gut Larchenhof in Kolm to lead by two over as many as seven others – Graeme Storm, Anders Hansen, Gary Stal, Andy Sullivan, Alvaro Quiros, Michael Hoey and Emiliano Grillo.

Cabrera-Bello compiled a bogey-free round that featured eight birdies – four on the front nine and four more on the back – while Willett’s round followed a similar pattern, with three of his gains coming on the front nine and five more coming after the turn.

Willett, champion at this event in 2011, is in good form after finishing in a tie for third at the Irish Open last week.

He is battling a slight injury problem after a sore neck forced him to miss the pro-am, but he seemed to show little ill effects on Thursday.

Nine more players followed three shots off the lead on five under, including Miguel Angel Jimenez, Branden Grace and English duo Tom Lewis and Sam Walker.

World No 2 Henrik Stenson, meanwhile, is among those on four under after opening 68s. The Swede and his playing partner Victor Dubuisson both seemed to battle with hayfever problems, frequently erupting in sneezing fits.

Martin Kaymer, playing in his first event in his native Germany since winning both the Players Championship and the US Open, was steady enough with a one-under-par 71, though he already finds himself seven shots off the pace.

Spaniard Sergio Garcia equalled Kaymer’s total to also lie seven back.