Evans above the rest at KLM Open

Updated: 

Eight players completed rounds of 66 at the KLM Open on Thursday, but Ben Evans went one better to claim the early lead and boost his chances of retaining a European Tour card for 2017.

Evans sits 143rd on the Race to Dubai - with the top 110 keeping their cards - and has missed the cut in 10 of his last 13 outings.

However, the Englishman finished the 2015 season strongly to retain his playing privileges and is now hoping to repeat the feat after firing seven birdies at The Dutch.

"I am in a similar position to what I was last year in terms of my card," Evans was quoted as saying by the European Tour's official website.

"It only takes one good week to turn everything around and I hope this is the week."

Peter Hanson - the winner of this event in 2012 - and playing partner Byeong-hun An are among those sharing second at five under, after both men eagled the sixth while managing six birdies and three bogeys.

Also one behind Evans are Bernd Wiesberger, Mikko Korhonen, Joakim Lagergren, Chris Hanson, Nino Bertasio and Dutch amateur Rowin Caron.

However, defending champion Thomas Pieters, a member of Europe's team for the upcoming Ryder Cup, was forced to withdraw from the tournament ahead of the first round. The Belgian suffered a major allergic reaction after being stung by a bee on Monday.