Martin Kaymer, back in action for the first time since his U.S. Open victory this month, was hampered by a cold putter as he posted a one-under-par 71 in the first round of the BMW International in his native Germany on Thursday.
The two-time major winner was tied in 66th place at Gut Larchenhof outside Duesseldorf, seven strokes adrift of joint leaders Danny Willett of Britain and Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
World number two Henrik Stenson of Sweden was well placed on 68, while eighth-ranked Sergio Garcia also returned a 71.
"It was a tough day for me on the greens," Kaymer told reporters. "It was probably the worst I can do.
"There are so many people that come out and expect you to play well and they expect you to play at least as good as two weeks ago. That's the way Germans are, but you have to lower your expectations."
Willett won the BMW International two years ago and clearly has a fondness for the tournament.
"It's always nice to come back to a place where you have won," the Englishman said. "You remember where you hit shots from and did certain things from ... you kind of know your way around a bit more."
Cabrera-Bello was particularly pleased with the consistency he showed.
"What I enjoyed most about the round was that I played pretty steady and I didn't have a real high or any lows," he said. "I just played steady golf in the entire four and a half hours that we were out there."
Denmark's Anders Hansen and Alvaro Quiros of Spain were among seven players sharing third place on 66.
(Writing by Tony Jimenez, editing by David Goodman)