Two eagles helped Max Orrin set the early pace as the Joburg Open got under way at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club on Thursday morning.
The Englishman has a Challenge Tour win in each of the last two seasons but has yet to win on The European Tour and is playing in just his 11th event.
He got his campaign here off to a perfect start on the tougher East Course as he opened with an eagle but he gave a shot back on the fifth before another eagle on the eighth saw him turn in 34.
Birdies followed on the tenth and 11th and another gain on the 14th got Orrin to six under but a bogey on the 16th after a missed short putt dropped him into a share of the lead with Rhys Davies and Jaco Ahlers.
Welshman Davies, who won the Trophée Hassan II in 2010, has regained his card after finishing eighth on The Challenge Tour last season and birdied the second, sixth and seventh on the West Course. He dropped a shot on the eighth but further gains came on the ninth, 12th and 15th.
South African Ahlers, also playing the West Course, went eagle-birdie-birdie after an opening bogey and made further gains on the ninth and 12th.
Michael Hollick was then at four under as he birdied his first two holes before further gains on the seventh and ninth got him out in 32. He then made it four in five holes on the tenth and 11th but a double bogey on the 12th halted his progress.
Chris Swanepoel made the turn on the West Course in 32 to also sit at four under after birdies on the first, second, sixth and seventh.
There was then a large group of players on three under including Mark Williams who was five under through six holes before a double bogey stalled his momentum.
Jared Harvey, Daniel Im, Michael Jonzon, Kevin Phelan, Martin Rominger and Sam Williams were all also in that group.