(CNN) -- South African Charl Schwartzel overcame tough conditions on Doral's Blue Monster course to take the first round lead at the WGC-CA Championship in Florida on Thursday.
Schwartzel fought off strong winds to card the only round of the day without a bogey - a five-under-par 67 at the $8 million tournament.
"I have played a lot of good rounds in my career, and this one rates right up there. It could even be the top," he told the official PGA Tour Web site.
Fiji's Vijay Singh, Ernie Els of South Africa and Australian Robert Allenby shared second place just one shot behind on four-under 68.
Veteran Singh might have taken the lead but for a double bogey on the par-four 18th where he found the water while Els also had the same problem but recovered to make a bogey.
Allenby bogeyed the final four holes to waste his chance to take the outright lead.
Schwartzel, who is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious compatriot Els, won two events in South Africa at the start of year to show his undoubted pedigree.
"I've started off the year so good and I couldn't have asked for anything better," said the 25-year-old.
"I've got a lot of confidence, I'm striking the ball well and I'm also making a few putts, which all adds up to good golf."
Defending champion Phil Mickelson was a late arrival at the tournament on Wednesday night, but despite his lack of practice shot a one-under 71.
Mickelson delayed his appearnce to be with wife Amy, who has been battling breast cancer for nearly a year.
England's in-form Paul Casey was in a six-strong group on three-under 69 while compatriot Ian Poulter, who won the previous World Golf Championship event, carded a level-par 72.