Justin Harding was delighted to rediscover his form as he fired a brilliant 63 to take the first-round lead at the Tshwane Open.
Pretoria Country Club proved a tough test on Thursday, with just 22 of the field managing to shoot under par despite almost perfect weather conditions in Waterkloof.
South African Harding bucked that trend, though, as he recorded eight birdies and just a single dropped shot to get to seven under and open up a one-shot lead over countryman Anthony Michael, with qualifier Theunis Spangenberg a further shot back.
The 30 year old has missed his first three cuts of the European Tour season but has four career wins on The Sunshine Tour, and was hopeful that he was getting back to something like his best.
"I have been struggling the last couple of events so it's a confidence boost, absolutely," he said. "I felt like I hit it quite nicely.
"I think I've just got to take it one round at a time, one shot a time for me at the moment as well.
It's been a while since I've been up there, so it's a good feeling. I'm just going to see if I can maybe keep it going - Justin Harding
"I personally don't find the course all that easy. It may be short but you still have to put it into position. There is enough slope on the greens so you are going to have some tricky putts.
"You can't really take advantage of par-fives either, they're quite long. So it's just a matter of trying to golf the ball and get it around and take advantage of a good shot when you have one."
Harding turned in 33 with a bogey and three birdies on the front nine but really came to life after the turn with a run of three birdies from the 11th. It looked like he would share the lead with Spangenberg, who had been in the third group out, but a birdie-birdie finish gave him the lead on his own.
Spangenberg flew out of the blocks to turn in 31 but then double bogeyed the tenth before picking a shot back up at the 12th, with further birdies following on the 15th and 17th.
Michael was the only of the afternoon starters to make an impact on the leaderboard, a bogey on the 18th his only blemish as he played both sides of the course in 32.
Jaco Van Zyl, searching for a first European Tour win after nine top three finishes, was at four under after six birdies and two bogeys, a shot clear of Merrick Bremner, who had one more dropped shot in his 67.
Defending champion George Coetzee was then in the group at two under, with Joburg Open champion Haydn Porteous firing a level par 70 to sit a shot clear of fellow 2016 winners Charl Schwartzel and Brandon Stone.
José-Filipe Lima made just the third hole-in-one in Tshwane Open history when he aced the par three fifth hole with a seven iron from 198 yards on his way to a one over par 71.