Buhrmann, from South Africa, made six birdies and an eagle for a 4-under 68 at the 7,047-yard Woo Jung Hills Country Club in Cheonan. Nico Van Rensburg, Richard Moir and Terry Pilkadaris shot 70 and shared second place.
Els, the world No. 3, attracted large galleries. Starting from the 10th, he birdied the fifth and sixth holes.
'I am reasonably satisfied,' said Els, who flew directly from Switzerland for the event. 'The course played really tough and the flag positions were quite difficult. Anything under par today is a good score. Hopefully I can improve on that.'
Els played in the first round with Korean stars Kang Wook-soon and Kevin Na, the youngest player on the PGA Tour this year.
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