Richard Sterne’s sublime eight under par 63 gave him a two shot clubhouse lead midway through the opening round of the Joburg Open.
The 31 year old South African, who finished runner-up to Stephen Gallacher in Dubai last week, began with a hat-trick of birdies at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington’s West Course.
Another gain at the eighth was followed by an eagle on the long ninth as the five-time European Tour winner turned in 30, with birdies at the short 13th and 15th completing his scoring.
Sterne, the winner of this event in 2008, was chasing a first win since a back injury reduced him to ten appearances in two years during 2010 and 2011.
His nearest challenger on six under par was America’s former World Number One amateur Peter Uihlein.
The Challenge Tour regular, appearing on a sponsor’s invite, eagled the second and had five birdies before a late bogey at the 17th.
While the best of the scoring was taking place on the West Course, South African Bryce Easton and Swede Björn Åkesson reached five under on the East Course to be in a share of third place - the former acing the par three 12th.
Two-time winner Charl Schwartzel was amongst the later starters and reached one under through three holes on the East Course.