Aaron Rai and Henric Sturehed fired rounds of 69 to share the clubhouse lead after a challenging first morning at the 2018 BMW International Open.
A combination of testing rough and high winds made life difficult, with just 13 of the morning wave shooting under par rounds at Golf Club Gut Laerchenhof.
Rai and Sturehed were the best of them, getting to three under to lead the way from Swede Christofer Blomstrand, Chilean pair Nico Geyger and Mark Tullo, Frenchman Victor Perez and local favourite Nicolai von Dellingshausen.
Afternoon starter Scott Jamieson was also three under after the Scot birdied three of his first five holes.
Australian Lucas Herbert and Swede Sturehed had both reached five under at one point in their rounds but fell back in extremely difficult conditions in Pulheim.
The leading duo are both playing their rookie seasons on the European Tour, with Rai graduating from the Challenge Tour after winning three events last season and Sturehed coming through the Qualifying School.
Englishman Rai has made a consistent start to his European Tour career and sits inside the top 100 on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, while Sturehed missed his first six cuts but broke that run in style, finishing in a tie for fifth at the Open de España.
Herbert birdied five of his first seven holes to set the early pace but dropped six shots in his closing six to fall back on a congested leaderboard.
Sturehed birdied the first, third, fifth and eighth with a bogey on the fourth to turn in 33 and dropped another shot on the 12th before an eagle on the par five 13th catapulted him into the lead.
Another gain on the 15th had him two clear but bogeys on the 16th and last dropped him back to three under alongside Rai.
The 23 year old birdied the third, seventh and ninth with a bogey on the eighth, and added another gain on the 15th to hit the summit.
Perez made a single bogey on the ninth but came home with birdies on the 11th, 14th and 17th to jump into contention.
Blomstrand made his sixth birdie of the day on the last to move into the group a shot off the lead but also made four bogeys.
Geyger overcame a double-bogey on the sixth with five birdies but dropped a shot on the 17th, while countryman Tullo dropped two shots on the fourth but added four birdies and a bogey.
Von Dellingshausen made his European Tour debut at this event last season as he finished in a tie for 26th and on Thursday he had an eagle on the the par five third to go with three birdies and three bogeys.
Frenchman Sébastien Gros, England's Chris Hanson, Spaniard Carlos Pigem and American Paul Peterson were on course at two under.
Belgian Thomas Detry, Spain's Nacho Elvira, German Maximilian Kieffer, Finn Mikko Korhonen, Australian Wade Ormsby and England's Andy Sullivan were in the clubhouse two shots off the lead.
Local favourite and 2008 champion Martin Kaymer was in the group at level par, a shot clear of World Number 18 Sergio Garcia.