DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 10: Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand chips onto the 13th green during the first round of the Volvo Golf Champions at Durban Country Club on January 10, 2013 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Durban – Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand fired an opening seven-under par 65 to take the first round lead in the Volvo Golf Champions European Tour event at Durban Country Club on Thursday.

Jaidee leads by three strokes over local favourites Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen who both shot four-under 68.

Heavy rain and strong wind came up in the afternoon, meaning no player could challenge the total set by Jaidee.

Jaidee said after his round, the key to his good score was using irons off many tees.

“I hit like seven, eight times I think today, a lot of three-irons from the tee,” said Jaidee after his round.

Jaidee, ranked 80th in the world said the weather reminded him of playing in Europe.

“We played most of the time in Europe like this in conditions like this, a lot of wind, like Scotland, like a links course, it's almost the same.”

Jaidee said he used his knowledge of 'links' golf to navigate the Durban layout.

Jaidee playing in the fifth group out, held a four stroke lead over a group of eight players on three under with a number of groups still out on the course.

Jaidee got off to a good start with birdies coming at the second,third, fourth, seventh and eighth to go out in five under 31.

Coming home Jaidee picked up a birdie on the par five 10th, before reeling four pars in a row. At the tricky par three 15th he made another birdie, but dropped his first and only shot of the day at the par four 17th.

On the final hole, Jaidee was able to safely negotiate the driveable 250 metre par four. – Sapa