Richard Bland admitted windy conditions had been for a tough test at Diamond Country Club after taking a share of the clubhouse lead at the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity.
The Englishman had four birdies and a single bogey in his opening 69 to join compatriot Ross McGowan, France’s Victor Riu, Scotland’s Scott Henry and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti on three under par in Austria.
“It wasn’t easy,” said Bland, who has only retained his playing card on the last day of the season in each of the last two years.
“It played a bit different the Pro-Am yesterday, when it was flat calm and 25 degrees.
“It played tough today in the wind, and the tough par fours were playing into the wind, which made scoring even harder, so a 69 was pretty good going.
“It’s a very tough track which tests every part of your game, but the fact that it’s in such good condition makes life a lot easier for us.”
Zanotti led for most of the morning having birdied four of his first six holes, but a missed five footer at the 14th cost him a bogey and the outright lead.
Defending champion Joost Luiten, among the afternoon starters, raced to four under with four gains in his first five holes and remained on that mark through seven holes.
Local favourite Bernd Wiesberger recovered from a slow start to boost his bid for a second home title and a US Open debut.
Wiesberger needs to repeat his 2012 or finish second on his own triumph to qualify for the second Major of the season at Pinehurst next week by moving inside the top 60 on the Official World Golf Ranking from his current position on 69th.
The 28 year old from Vienna bogeyed the tenth, his opening hole, but a birdie on the 16th got him back to level par at the turn and sparked a major improvement in fortune.
Wiesberger experienced both good and bad luck on the first, where his approach to the 506 yard par five narrowly cleared the water in front of the green and took a friendly bounce towards the hole.
However, his eagle putt from six feet then caught the edge of the cup and horseshoed out, while he also missed from similar distance for a birdie on the second.
Wiesberger did not have to wait long for another birdie though, producing another excellent iron shot in the overcast and windy conditions on the third and holing from five feet, while a superb bunker shot on the next - despite an awkward stance - set up his third birdie in four holes.
A wayward drive on the eighth cost Wiesberger a double bogey and he did well to avoid dropping another shot on the last after running his long birdie putt ten feet past the hole.
An opening round of 71 left him two shots off the early clubhouse lead, while playing partner Miguel Angel Jiménez was also into red figures after a bad start.
The 50 year old Spaniard, who was hoping to call on some "home" support after moving to Vienna following his wedding to Austrian Susanne Styblo last month, was two over par after eight holes but birdied the par three 18th and then holed a bunker shot on the second.
Jiménez, who extended his own record as the oldest winner in European Tour history by claiming the Open de España three weeks ago, also two-putted the par five fourth from long range and another birdie on the sixth saw him return a 70.