Adam Scott finished his round with three birdies to sit just a shot off the lead as the 2017 Race to Dubai teed off at the Australian PGA Championship.
The World Number Seven has an excellent record at this event, winning it in 2013 and finishing second after a marathon play-off against Greg Chalmers the following season.
The duo were paired together again on Thursday and Scott carded an eagle and three birdies to go with just a single bogey in a 68 that left him four under, one shot behind clubhouse leader Ryan Fox.
The New Zealander is embarking on his maiden European Tour season at RACV Royal Pines Resort after finishing fourth on last season's Challenge Tour and was bogey-free to sit alongside Andrew Dodt, Julian Suri and Paul Waring, who were all still on the back nine.
Australian Nick Cullen was then also in the clubhouse alongside Scott after carding five birdies and a single bogey.
Starting on the back nine, Scott showed some intent early, getting onto the par five 12th in two and then rolling in a 40-foot putt to jump out to two under.
A bogey then came on the 18th - a hole he and Chalmers had to tackle seven times in their play-off two years ago - before he birdied the seventh, eighth and ninth to catapult himself up the leaderboard.
Fox turned in 33 with birdies on the third, fourth and ninth and hit the front on his own at the 15th as he left himself a short putt.
Waring then jumped ahead of him with a second eagle of the day but a birdie on the 17th saw Fox set the target.
Englishman Waring birdied the third but holed out from the fairway on the par four sixth before recording another big bird on the 12th. He bogeyed the 14th but a gain on the 16th left him five under with two to play.
American Suri turned in 35 but then picked up four birdies in five holes from the tenth and had three to play, while home favourite Dodt was also through 15 holes with six birdies and a bogey.
Australians Peter O'Malley and Todd Sinnott were at four under along with Thailand's Natipong Srithong as all three came towards the end of their rounds.
Michael Sim, Danny Lee and Daniel Nisbet were all at three under.
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