Cormac Sharvin was the surprise leader after he carded an eight-under-par 63 to take the first-round lead at the English Championship in Hertfordshire.

The 27-year-old County Down man, who teed off in the final group of the opening round at Hanbury Manor, carded 10 birdies and two bogeys to nudge ahead of six players in a tie for second at seven under.

"It was a nice round, played really well, didn't do too much wrong," Sharvin said.

"Put it on the fairway, hit a lot of good shots and holed a few putts as well and it all added up to 63. Pretty happy to start well.

"A long way to go but it’s always nice to shoot a good score on the first day and not put yourself out of it."

Veteran David Howell rolled back the years and looked to have earned his first 18-hole lead at a European Tour event in his 636th appearance as he registered six birdies and a stunning hole-out at the 15th to move to eight under.

But the five-time European Tour winner bogeyed the penultimate hole to join Australian pair Jason Scrivener and Min Woo Lee, Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent, last week’s Hero Open runner-up Thomas Detry and fellow Englishman Laurie Canter in carding 64 in their opening round.

Sharvin opened up with three birdies in Ware before dropping a shot at the fifth. He replied by recording gains at the seventh and ninth to get to the turn at four under.

Sharvin, ranked 322nd in the world, picked up successive birdies from the 11th hole to move within one of the lead, only to drop a shot at the next.

Consecutive birdies at the 14th and 15th increased the group at the top to seven players before he rolled in his third successive gain to take the outright lead.