Jaco Van Zyl set the clubhouse target on day one of the BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni to continue his good start to the 2016 European Tour season.
The South African has a formidable record in his homeland with 13 wins on the Sunshine Tour, and finished in ties for eighth and 13th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and Nedbank Golf Challenge respectively before Christmas.
But he has yet to claim a win on The European Tour with four second-place finishes, including the dramatic Turkish Airlines Open in November when he was denied by a brilliant finish from Victor Dubuisson.
An opening round of 65 at Glendower Golf Club gave him a one-shot lead over countryman Shaun Norris as he looks to change that record, and he was in a confident mood following the festive break.
"I've had a couple of weeks off spending time with the family. I've had my fair share of whisky and Christmas pudding so it was really nice to get off to a good start," he said.
It's not like I was pouring it in from everywhere. I hit a couple close early on and managed to get the pars there and managed to keep it together the last couple of holes - Jaco Van Zyl
Starting on the tenth, Van Zyl birdied his first and the 13th before back-to-back gains on the 15th and 16th saw him turn in 32. A further birdie came on the first and was then followed by an eagle on the par five second to move him to seven under and a two-shot lead.
Norris was one of those two shots back after he birdied the 11th and 12th before an eagle on the 15th catapulted him up the leaderboard. Another birdie came on the 17th but a shot was given back on the next as he turned in 32.
A birdie on the first got him back on track before a dropped shot on the fourth and birdie on the fifth had him five under through 14 holes.
But he would soon have a share of the lead as he picked up a birdie despite a wayward tee shot on the eighth and Van Zyl dropped a first shot of the day on the seventh after a poor chip shot from the edge of the green.
Van Zyl responded in impressive fashion, though, putting his approach on the eighth to three feet and moving back ahead.
Estanislao Goya was then at four under after a 68 containing five birdies and a bogey. He picked up shots on the third and fourth but gave one back on the seventh before further birdies followed on the ninth, 11th and 15th.
Daniel Brooks was also at four under after he had threatened to run away with things on his first nine. He birdied his first three holes from the tenth and, after two pars followed, had another run of three to turn in 30.
Bogeys at the first, fourth and seventh slowed his progress, though, before he birdied the eighth.
Branden Grace was in the group at three under after a brilliant recovery from two bogeys in his first three holes. Two birdies got him back level at the turn and when he eagled the second, he was back to two under.
A dropped shot came on the fifth but a birdie on the seventh was followed by another fortuitous gain on the eighth as the World Number 14's approach hit Marcel Siem's ball on the green to leave a makable putt.
Fellow South Africans Jacques Kruyswijk, Anthony Michael and Garth Mulroy were also at three under alongside rookies Nino Bertasio and Laurie Canter.
Tournament host Ernie Els had found himself three over after 14 holes but went birdie-eagle on the seventh and eighth before a missed short putt on the ninth dropped him to one over.