Frenchman Gregory Bourdy shot a six-under 66 to take the first round lead at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.
But lurking just a shot back is home hero Charl Schwartzel, who followed up his crushing 11-shot win in last week's Thailand Golf Championship with a day one 67 to share second place with five others.
Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, fired a bogey-free 67 with the highlight a holed bunker shot for a birdie two on the 12th.
The six-way tie for second features three other South Africans - Darren Fichardt, Louis De Jager and Oliver Bekker - and English duo Richard Bland and Steve Webster.
Webster, who lost a play-off at last week's Nelson Mandela Championship, continued his hot form with a card which showed a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th and no bogeys.
Leader Bourdy, a three-time winner on the European Tour, birdied all three of the par threes but had to settle for par fives at each of the three long holes.
Although he missed seven fairways out of 14, he hit 15 greens in regulation at the par 72 Leopard Creek course which features an array of wildlife.
World number five Louis Oosthuizen is the highest-ranked player in the field but his opening round was ruined by a quadruple eight at the third hole, his 12th. The South African eventually signed for a one-over 73.
This is the second event of the 2013 Race To Dubai and the man who won four times in the just finished 2012 campaign, Branden Grace, is going well again after finishing just two shots back after a four-under 68.