The Englishman is in danger of losing his playing privileges following a stop-start campaign but belied his 446th place in the world rankings to take advantage of ideal scoring conditions in the morning to finish on six-under par at The International.

The 26-year-old was forced to withdraw at the European Masters last month due to food poisoning before retiring during the second round of last week's Porsche European Open with a back injury and needs some good results to ensure another season on the European Tour.

However, Shinkwin eased his pain when he reached the turn in 32, courtesy of an eagle, three birdies and one dropped shot, before a blemish-free back nine – which included two more gains – helped him to the top of the leaderboard.

English trio Chris Paisley, Matthew Southgate and Sam Horsfield, Scotland's Marc Warren, Malaysian Gavin Green, Swede Per Langfors and 18-year-old Dane Nicolai Hojgaard were in the seven-strong chasing pack following rounds of five-under-par 67.

RIGHT: Seven players, including Chris Paisley, trail Shinkwin by one shot after the opening round of the KLM Open. PHOTO: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.

Sergio Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion and 15-time European Tour winner, led another group of seven players which sit one shot further adrift at the 100th edition of the KLM Open, with only James Morrison threatening the leaderboard from the afternoon starters to sit at four under.

Defending champion Ashun Wu remained in contention at three-under par alongside two-time tournament winner Joost Luiten, who was three over after nine holes but carded six birdies on his back nine to join the Chinese player and eight others for a round of 69.

Australia's Jake McLeod shot a two-under round of 70 to sit among a big sharing 26th place with compatriot Deyen Lawson one shot back.