Nicolas Colsaerts narrowly failed to record the European Tour's first round of 59 as he made a blistering start at the Portugal Masters on Thursday.

The Belgian almost earned a place in history as a long-range putt on the 18th green at Oceanico Victoria Golf Club in Vilamoura shaved the edge of the hole.

That meant Colsaerts, who hit a European Tour record 447-yard drive last month, had to settle for a first-round 60 but it was still nevertheless a superb opening that put him in charge on 11 under.

Colsaerts completed his round shortly before the day's play was abandoned when a torrential downpour flooded parts of the course.

His closest challengers were Scotland's Scott Jamieson and Frenchman Alexander Levy, who both signed for eight-under-par 63s.

Spain's Adrian Otaegui was seven under after 14 holes when play was washed out, meaning he could yet get close to Colsaerts' mark when play resumes on Friday. Fellow Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello was in the clubhouse on seven under after a 64.

Jamieson posted his mark early with a nine-birdie round but the day belonged to Colsaerts, who hit the ground running as he set off in pursuit of the Scot.

He birdied the first, fourth and fifth and then sank four more birdies in succession around the turn. The fabled 59, never achieved in 42 years of the European Tour, then became a possibility as he drove the green at the par-four 15th and holed for eagle.

A second eagle at the 17th left him needing to pick up one more stroke at the last, but his 18-foot birdie putt there stopped, agonisingly, millimetres left of the hole.

He tapped in for par and gestured to a camera with thumb and forefinger as he walked away, indicating how close he had come.

"Still can’t believe that putt on 18 didn’t drop for magical 59 #personalbest," Colsaerts later tweeted.

He told the European Tour's website: "When I made eagle on 15, I knew then that if I birdied the last three, that would have been 59."

Discussing the crucial putt, Colsaerts added: "I thought it was going to be slightly left to right at the end and it kind of went straight and basically just left it hanging. Too bad, I thought it was a pretty good effort, especially with these dark clouds that we saw at the back. It's a great setting."

Best of the Irish is Michael Hoey on five under while Paul McGinley, Europe's victorious Ryder Cup captain, continued to play on adrenaline and ended the first round in a tie for 18th after a tidy four-under-par 67.

Shane Lowry and Kevin Phelan shot par 71s, while Simon Thornton’s 76 left him five over par.

The remaining three Irish players did not finish their rounds due to the weather abandonment: Peter Lawrie was one under after 12 holes, Pádraig Harrington two over after 17 and Damien McGrane three over after 14 holes.