When it comes to golf and all its related subtleties, nuances and occasional absurdities, Richie Ramsay often resembles that sculpture of The Thinker which depicts a heroic man in sober meditation battling with a powerful internal struggle. Ramsay, of course, is not perched on a rock in the scuddy but you get the idea.

“I wake up sometimes in the middle of the night thinking about where I am at the top of my backswing,” said the Scot of his nocturnal philosophising.

Ramsay would’ve slept well last night, mind you. A delightfully engineered six-under 66 on day one of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth had him riding high on the leaderboard in a share of second, two behind the early frontrunner, Marcus Helligkilde, who barged his way to the top with a lively 64.

Having sorted out a few gremlins in the technicalities of his swing under the shrewd eye of his coach, Ian Rae, Ramsay was in fine fettle on the West Course yesterday as he opened his bid for a fifth DP World Tour title with considerable zeal.

It didn’t start too promisingly with a bogey on the third but a birdie on the next was a rapid-fire repair job before gains at eight, 10, 11 and 12 got him bounding along quite the thing. A finishing flourish, which included birdie putts of 25-feet on 17 and eight-feet on 18, capped a fine day in the Surrey sunshine as he finished alongside former US Open champion, Matt Fitzpatrick.

On the big stage in front of vast crowds, Ramsay rose to the occasion. “I love it but there’s no doubt that I get nervous,” said the 40-year-old, whose best finish in the DP World Tour’s flagship was sixth in 2019. “I learned, though, that getting butterflies is quite cool. This is what you want. I love the pressure on the first tee. Even just as a club member, when the bar is full and you’re playing a monthly medal, we all get nervous.”

With every member of Europe’s 12-man Ryder Cup team competing this week, the jam-packed galleries made the nearby M25 look like a sedate B-road. The marquee group of Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland and man-of-the-moment, Ludvig Aberg, was the three-ball they all wanted to see but that glitzy trio was upstaged by the sprightly endeavours of Helligkilde.

The 26-year-old, looking to become just the second Dane after two-time champion Ander Hansen to win the BMW PGA title, packed 10 birdies into an eventful round. And the secret to his success? “I did it by hitting it terribly on the range,” he said. “I asked my coach, ‘what should I do?’, and he said, ‘you’re probably going to play great’. And that’s what happened.” It’s a daft auld game.

As for that aforementioned showpiece grouping? Well, McIlroy toiled to a hum-drum 72, Hovland had a decent 69 and Aberg, the young Swede who only joined the pro ranks in June but is heading for the Ryder Cup, opened with a 68.

The 23-year-old wowed the masses with five birdies in a row from the 11th but his assault was tempered on the 17th when he plunged his tee-shot out of bounds and racked up a double-bogey seven. A closing birdie soothed some of that wound.

“The 17th was a little bit stupid but other than that I felt like I hit the ball great and I’m really happy with the way I played,” said Aberg. 

On a good day for the Scots contingent in the field, Connor Syme continued his fine form with a five-under 67 to tuck himself into a share of fourth.

The 28-year-old Fifer, who has finished seventh, third and fourth in his last three tour outings, stumbled to a bogey on the first but a raking eagle putt of some 30-feet on the fourth ignited his day. Calum Hill opened with a four-under 68 while veteran campaigner Stephen Gallacher, who has built up a decent body of work in this parish down the years, posted a 69.

He was joined on that mark by the defending champion, Shane Lowry, with Jon Rahm, runner-up at Wentworth in 2022 and 2019, two shots back on 71. Danny Willett, the champion in 2019, had been six-under standing on the 15th tee but leaked five shots on a grisly run-in and had to settle for a one-under card. Ryder Cup recruit Robert MacIntyre had a 72.