Richie Ramsay, who three years ago became the first Scot for 108 years to win the US Amateur Championship, made a flying start at the BMW Italian Open in Turin.
Yet to register a top 20 finish on The European Tour, the 25 year old from Aberdeen raced to the turn in a five under par 31 to lead by two from compatriot Alan McLean and Welshman Bradley Dredge.
Ramsay, whose US Amateur victory led to him playing with Phil Mickelson at the Masters Tournament and Tiger Woods at the US Open Championship the following year, failed to come through The European Tour Qualifying School at the end of that season.
But he had two wins on The 2008 Challenge Tour and began the South African Open Championship with a 66 in December before falling back to 26th place.
The former Walker Cup player has fallen to 213th on The Race to Dubai by missing his last three halfway cuts, but kicked off this morning with back-to-back birdies, then picked up further strokes on the fifth, eighth and ninth.
McLean, given a medical extension to his Tour membership for the start of this season because of a foot injury that limited him to only ten starts last year, had a hat-trick of birdies from the fourth.
Dredge, meanwhile, birdied the third, eighth and ninth to turn in 33.
Darren Clarke and former Open Championship winners Paul Lawrie and John Daly were among the afternoon starters.