England's Lee Slattery and German Marcel Siem led the way as much of the field struggled at the start of the ISPS Handa Wales Open at a breezy Celtic Manor Resort.
Slattery, who won his first European Tour title in Madrid last October after eight trips to the Qualifying School, and in-form Siem were four under par after 13 holes.
That put them two in front of Scot Steven O'Hara, Thai Thongchai Jaidee and Swede Joel Sjöholm at the scene of Europe's Ryder Cup victory in 2010.
Colin Montgomerie, who Captained Europe to glory that week, was not enjoying a happy return, however. After a triple bogey on the short third, a double bogey on the 12th - his second - four bogeys and three birdies, Montgomerie was six over par.
Compatriot Paul Lawrie, second in The Ryder Cup points race after his runner-up finish in the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday, was two over after 11 holes, the same as Ryder Cup Captain and playing partner José María Olazábal. Four of the 2010 European Team were present. Ross Fisher, Miguel Angel Jiménez and brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari were all among the later starters.
Making his European Tour debut as a sponsor's invite was the Duke of Roxburghe's son Ted Innes-Ker. The 28 year old, a friend of Pippa Middleton from their university days, was not setting his sights too high, saying that making the cut was "a tall order", and he turned in a five over 41.
Siem and Slattery both reached five under, but the Englishman then ran up a bogey six at the long ninth, his penultimate hole.
Lawrie fell ten adrift of the lead with a hat-trick of bogeys from the fourth, while defending champion Alex Noren had a quadruple bogey seven on the short third - as Siem did when leading into the final round two years ago - and with four to play was nine over.