In the second group out on Thursday at 7.20am, Hill carded a flawless nine-under-par 63 to finish a shot ahead of Northern Ireland's Jonathan Caldwell, with Ross Fisher, Chase Hanna and Robin Sciot-Siegrist on seven under.

With a strong wind making scoring difficult for the later starters, none were able to get close to Hill's total, although American Berry Henson's 67 was arguably the best round of the day in the worst of the weather.

"We got the best part of (the weather), 100 percent," admitted Hill, who is seeking his first European Tour title after three wins on the Challenge Tour.

"Our front nine was relatively calm, probably half a club wind, then back nine picked up. We got three quarters of our day in quite pleasant conditions. I think it's just getting worse from here – we took advantage."

None of the Australian contingent were able to make an early challenge with Austin Bautista, Scott Hend and Dimitrios Papadatos the best of the bunch, all shooting even-par 72s to lie in joint-53rd place.