The 48-year-old Englishman shot a five-under 66 on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Made in Himmerland event in Denmark with Spain's Pablo Larrazabal, Finland's Lauri Ruuska, Austria's Bernd Wiesberger and South Korea's Yi Keun Chang.

Sydney's Dimitrios Papadatos, one of eight Australians in the field, had a fine day, shooting a four-under 67 to lie just a shot off the lead in joint sixth place.

In the last event on the Tour – the British Masters two weeks ago – Bland had finally won at the 478th attempt by beating Guido Migliozzi in a playoff at The Belfry.

"I was just happy to get back out playing, to be honest," the No. 134-ranked Bland said.

"I hadn't really done a lot last week, I played once with some friends and did a little bit of practice.

"I was coming in a little bit unprepared, but sometimes that's not always a bad thing. I just tried to carry on where I left off and managed to do that."

Wiesberger is defending the title he won in 2019 – the event was cancelled last year because of the pandemic – and moved into contention with three straight birdies from the fourth hole before an eagle on the eighth. He holed a 30-foot putt for birdie at the last.

Jason Scrivener, fresh from finishing as the leading Australian at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in 23rd place, shot a one-under par 71 to lie joint 40th alongside his compatriot Jarryd Felton.