England's Ryan Evans overcame tough conditions and a disrupted preparation to claim a share of the lead after the opening day of the Rocco Forte Open.

Evans was one of just two players not to drop a single shot as strong winds made life difficult for the later starters, the 31-year-old firing four birdies and an eagle to join Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard at the top of the leaderboard on six under par.

"I'm pretty pleased with that really," Evans, the world number 284, said. "It was a bit unfortunate with the flight being delayed coming out of Heathrow on Tuesday so I didn't get in until 10pm and then played a late practice round on Wednesday and didn't play the whole way round.

"I have played steady this year but nothing spectacular. I've said to a couple of friends at home that I haven't really had that six, seven under start in a tournament, I am always scrapping and just making the cut and not really doing much on the weekend. So it feels great to put a low one in for the first round.

"We had really tough conditions out there this afternoon, it might be calmer on Friday morning but that doesn't make it any easier, you still have to go out and play good golf."

Bjerregaard, who had missed four cuts in a row before finishing sixth in the Volvo China Open, carded seven birdies and a solitary bogey in his opening 65.

"I haven't played great this year but it feels like it's coming back a little bit now," he said. "It was a shame to finish off with a bogey, it would be have been nice to finish off with a clean card, but in these conditions I'm quite happy with 65.

"I haven't played well this year but I found something in China and the things I've been working on for quite a while now seem to be coming around a little bit.

"I'm not going to go out and expect a whole lot just because of today - there's a long way to go - but it's nice to hit some good shots and play a bit better."

Bjerregaard and Evans enjoy a two-shot lead over Spain's Scott Fernandez, Brazil's Adilson da Silva and the English trio of Andy Sullivan, Marcus Armitage and Daniel Brooks.

Defending champion Alvaro Quiros struggled to an opening 79.

Ruaidhari McGee is Ireland's sole representative at the event but he's already well off the pace after shooting an opening round 77.