There are few better places on Earth for kicking back and relaxing, but the Australian trio of Andrew Dodt, Nick Cullen and Jarryd Felton wasted no time on the first morning of the 2018 Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways.

All three took advantage of the morning’s relatively friendly – but by no means easy – conditions, each carding opening rounds of 5-under 67 to set an impressive early pace at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course.

Posting two eagles against just two bogeys between them, the Australians set themselves up for a good week in the tri-sanctioned event that could greatly aid all three in their quests to cement themselves in Asia and Europe.

“I’ll take that. That was not easy,” Dodt told the media after signing his card.

“I’ve always said I’m a good wind player. I mean, you’ve still got to do it. The last six months haven’t been that great… so today was a step in the right direction.

“I started leaking a few shots in the last three holes, but holed some good putts for par. Especially around here, it’s easy to drop shots, so bogey-free was a bonus.”

South Australian Cullen also avoided adding any big numbers to his scorecard and may have even surprised himself with his opening 67 after a dicey morning.

“It wasn’t the best warmup, I didn’t feel that great on the range,” said Cullen.

“Sometimes you end up having good days after that, so it worked out well.”

Nowadays, the 2014 Australian Masters champion spends the majority of his time teeing it up on the European Tour and secondary Challenge Tour – a balance that Cullen feels is helping him get the best out of himself on the course.

“I’m just playing the main tour events I get into in Europe. Sort of traveling from the U.S. and Australia,” said Cullen,

“It’s hard going over for smaller events with smaller purses. So trying to spend more time with my wife and my dog and seeing my coach and working on my game and trying to be a better golfer rather than just playing lots of tournaments.”

For rising West Australian star Felton, adjusting to the wind – and capitalising on it at the right times – is the key to posting a good number around Natadola Bay.

“If there’s no wind, anything under-par is probably normal,” said Felton, “But anything under-par today is a really good score. I’m really happy.”

“It’s mainly a cross-wind here and as soon as you get down breeze, you’ve just got to take your chances and try to knock it out there.”

On the back of a consistent year in China and Europe, Queenslander Maverick Antcliff made a late dash to finish one shot shy of the leaders after an opening 68.

Matt Griffin holds down 3-under on the standings halfway through the day after a bogey-free round of his own, one stroke clear of a pack of players at 2-under headlined by fellow Victorian Lucas Herbert.

Tournament drawcard Ernie Els ground out an even-par 72 in his first competition round at Natadola Bay after teeing off the 10th alongside the big-hitting Herbert.

The four-time major champ recorded back-to-back birdies prior to making the turn in a rollercoaster round that included four birdies but the same number of bogeys.

Els’s fourth gained stroke came on his last hole, the uphill par-5 9th, to avoid shooting over-par.