(CNN) -- American golfer Nick Watney tied the course record with an eight-under-par 64 to overshadow world No. 1 Tiger Woods on the opening day of the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai.
Woods was three shots off the pace at the World Golf Championships event, tied for fifth with fellow U.S. Ryder Cup star Anthony Kim, their compatriot Ryan Moore, world No. 4 Paul Casey and Hong Kong Open champion Wen-tang Lin.
Watney, who was runner-up at the WGC-CA Championship event in March, could have led by even more, but bogeyed his final hole after three-putting to have a two-shot buffer over Germany's Martin Kaymer and Irishman Shane Lowry.
Starting on the back nine, the world No. 32 went to the turn in 31 strokes with three birdies and an eagle three at the 14th hole.
He then seemed on course for a sensational 59 after carding four successive birdies, but followed them with four pars before his late lapse.
"I played very well, I got off to a nice start. The greens are so good that if you hit a putt on line, it's definitely going to go in," Watney told reporters.
"I was putting very well and I just tried to give myself as many chances as possible and I was able to make a few."
Woods, who was followed by the usual large crowd, was unhappy with his game in his first outing since the Presidents Cup last month.
"I got it round. It wasn't my best ball-striking round for sure, but I made some putts which was nice and just managed the game well. I was a bit frustrated," the 14-time major winner said.
Kaymer continued his bid to win the Race To Dubai -- he is second on the European Tour money list with three events left -- despite still being hampered by the foot injury which sidelined him for two months.
"My foot is hurting a little more than last week, I am a little surprised, but the good thing is there is only three rounds to go and then I have a week off," he said.
"My swing is still the same, it doesn't have any effect on my swing, it's just walking that's the problem."
World No. 2 Phil Mickelson, who beat Watney by one shot to win the WGC-CA Championship in Florida, was tied for 13th after an opening 69 featuring four birdies on his front nine and bogey at the par-four fifth hole.
Race To Dubai leader Lee Westwood was a shot back along with fourth-placed Ross Fisher, who beat Kim in the final of the World Match Play Championship last Sunday.
Second-placed Rory McIlroy was tied for 48th after an opening 73 which was marred by a double-bogey six at the first hole.
He was one adrift of Singapore Open winner Ian Poulter, who carded five birdies and five bogeys in his 72.