Lucas Bjerregaard continued his recent return to form as he fired an excellent 65 to set the target on day one of the Rocco Forte Sicilian Open.
The big-hitting Dane missed five of his first seven cuts this season but finished sixth at the Volvo China Open last month and only a play-off prevented him and team-mate Thorbjørn Olesen progressing to the knockout stages at last week's GolfSixes.
The 26 year old won the Portugal Masters for his first European Tour title last season and was trending in the right direction for number two at Verdura Golf Club, getting to six under and leading the way by two from English trio Marcus Armitage, Daniel Brooks and Andy Sullivan, and Spaniard Scott Fernandez.
South Africa's Thomas Aiken, Frenchman Sébastien Gros, Norway's Kristian Krogh Johannessen and South Korean Eunshin Park were at three under.
Park and Nicholas Fung had set the early pace as they both played their first nine holes in four under and when Park - making his first European Tour appearance since 2011 - birdied the second after starting on the 11th, he was five under and led on his own.
He then bogeyed three in a row from the fourth to drop back and opened the door to the chasing pack with Bjerregaard and Armitage joining the lead.
Bjerregaard added to birdies on the 11th and 16th with further gains on the second and fourth, while Armitage endured a roller coaster, birdieing the second, third, eighth, ninth, 13th and 14th but dropping shots on the sixth and 11th to get to four under.
Park recovered well with birdies on the eighth and ninth to join the lead again but he bogeyed the tenth to set the target at three under.
An Armitage bogey on the 16th meant a gain on the seventh gave Bjerregaard a two-shot lead and while Armitage bounced back with a birdie on the 17th, Bjerregaard birdied the eighth and ninth for three in a row and a three-shot advantage.
A bogey on the tenth dropped that lead to two and late charges from Fernandez, Sullivan and Brooks saw them join the group in second.
Ryder Cup star Sullivan birdied the 13th, 15th and 17th but then sandwiched another gain on the second with bogeys on the 18th and third before picking up shots on the eighth and ninth.
Fernandez also birdied the eighth and ninth after previous gains on the 14th, 16th, first and fourth, and dropped shots on the 15th and sixth.
Brooks continued the theme, with his gains on the eighth and ninth sitting alongside birdies on the 16th, first, second and fourth, and bogeys on the 15th and third.
Aiken recovered from a double-bogey on the 17th with five birdies in his 68, while Johannessen dropped one shot and Gros had two blemishes.
Malaysia's Fung, Englishman Richard Finch, South African Trevor Fisher Jnr and Austrian Mathias Schwab were two under.