Els had an eagle in a 4-under front nine of the Golfclub Munchen Eichenried course and had five other birdies, including on 18, in finishing with a 63. That was one stroke off the course record.
Local favorite Martin Kaymer, Matthew Baldwin, Robert-Jan Derksen and Alexander Noren were tied for second at 8-under while Alexander Levy, Tom Lewis and Matthew Nixon were a stroke back at 7-under. Another 10 players are three strokes off Els' pace.
Els started at No. 10 and jumped out with three straight birdies over Nos. 11-13. He added birdies at 16 and 18 for a 31 in his first nine holes. He dropped a 40-foot putt at the par-3 second for birdie and stopped a 250-yard second shot 5 feet from the hole for an easy eagle at the 546-yard sixth. Els had another eagle try at 9 but ended up with a two-putt birdie.
Kaymer had a pair of three-birdie strings in his round while Derksen, who also eagled No. 6, had five birdies in a 6-hole span. Baldwin had four birdies on each nine and Noren had five birdies over Nos. 13-18.