Lucas Bjerregaard and Ryan Evans mastered the windy conditions at Verdura Golf Club to share the lead after round one of the Rocco Forte Sicilian Open.
Bjerregaard had set the target at six under in the morning and with high winds for the later starters in Italy, it looked like he would take a solo lead into Friday.
Englishman Evans had other ideas, making four birdies to edge up the leaderboard and then eagling the par five ninth to join the Dane and lead the way by two shots from English trio Marcus Armitage, Daniel Brooks and Andy Sullivan, Brazilian Adilson da Silva and Spaniard Scott Fernandez.
South African Thomas Aiken, England's Steven Brown, Frenchmen Julien Guerrier and Sébastien Gros, Norway's Kristian Krogh Johannessen and South Korean Eunshin Park were then at three under.
Bjerregaard missed five of his first seven cuts this season but finished sixth at the Volvo China Open last month and now feels his game is going in the right direction as he looks to add to his maiden European Tour title at last season's Portugal Masters.
"I haven't played well this year but I found something in China and the things I've been working on for quite a while now seem to be coming around a little bit," he said. "I'm not going to go out and expect a whole lot just because of today - there's a long way to go - but it's nice to hit some good shots and play a bit better.
"I played really well today. It was a shame to finish off with a bogey, it would be have been nice to finish off with a clean card but in these conditions I'm quite happy with 65. There wasn't much wind when we teed off but it didn't take long for it to pick up."
Park - who was playing his first European Tour event since 2011 - was the first man to really break out of the early pack with birdies on the 12th, 13th, 17th, first and second moving him to five under.
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, and only Evans would get past them from the afternoon starters.
The Challenge Tour graduate - who has missed just one of ten cuts this season - birdied the 12th, 16th, fourth and seventh before his big finish.
"I have played steady this year but nothing spectacular," he said. "I've said to a couple of friends at home that I haven't really had that six, seven under start in a tournament, I am always scrapping sort of one under, two under and just making the cut and not really doing much on the weekend. So it feels great to put a low one in for the first round.
"We had real tough conditions out there this afternoon, it might be calmer tomorrow morning but that doesn't make it any easier, you still have to go out and play good golf."
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.
Da Silva was one of the few afternoon starters to get close to the lead, birdieing the 11th, 14th, 17th and second, with his only bogey coming at the sixth before he bounced back on the eighth.
Aiken and Brown both recovered from double-bogeys with five birdies in rounds of 68, while Guerrier was bogey-free, Johannessen dropped one shot and Gros had two blemishes.