The 47-year-old provided the early cheers for the local galleries with six birdies against a double bogey at the venerable Hong Kong Golf Club at Fanling to enjoy one of his best starts in recent years.
While the Chinese trailblazer has scaled down his playing schedule abroad, he showed that he is still capable of producing some impressive golf when he opened his campaign with four successive birdies, starting on the opening par-four 11th before adding another on the 17th.
"I was five-under after eight holes. After that, I played conservatively, but towards the end I wanted to be a bit more aggressive," said Zhang.
"On the last hole today [Thursday], my tee shot went into the left rough and it was very tough to get out from that lie. It was very unfortunate to finish a round with a double bogey," said Zhang.
While winning the US$2 million UBS Hong Kong Open is still premature as the championship is in its early stages, Zhang will no doubt be dreaming of completing a unique treble as he has previously won the Macau Open and China Open on the Asian Tour.
"I've won the China Open and the Macau Open and I've always wanted to add the Hong Kong Open to my wins. That's why I always love to come back to Hong Kong and play in the Hong Kong Open. Nobody has done it before and hopefully I can be the first player to achieve that accomplishment," said Zhang.
Throughout his illustrious career that spans almost two decades, Zhang has beaten the likes of Major champions such as South Africa's Ernie Els and Zimbabwean Nick Price.
With world number one Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and ltaly's Matteo Manassero among the elite field this week, Zhang remains bullish about his chances of getting the better over the Major champions as well as his younger rivals who are almost half his age.
"I've the local knowledge here with all of my years of experience and they will be advantageous to me this week," said Zhang.