Johannes Veerman came home in 29 on the Bushwillow Course to set a blistering pace early on day one of the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg.
The American has made an excellent start to the 2020 Race to Dubai since coming through the Qualifying School, earning two top tens in his three starts so far and he continued that form at Randpark Golf Club with a 62 to move to nine under.
That matched the effort last season of Louis Oosthuizen, who also opened with a nine under round and went on to lift the trophy at his home open for the first time.
Dane Rasmus Højgaard has made a fast start to life on the European Tour after winning the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open and he was three shots back having played 12 holes.
England's Sam Horsfield was also in a share of second with five holes to play.
Oosthuizen, fellow South Africans Jacques Kruyswijk, Toto Thimba Jnr, amateur Jayden Trey Schaper and Italian Nino Bertasio were all at five under also playing the Bushwillow.
Veerman birdied the second and fifth but jumped into a share of the lead with a hat-trick of gains from the tenth.
He then burst clear of the field with a four birdie finish that gave him a flawless start to the calendar year.
Højgaard set the early pace with gains on the first and second and three in a row from the fourth before adding another at the 12th.
Horsfield had just three pars in his opening 13 holes, adding eight birdies and two bogeys.
Oosthuizen was bogey free in his first 11 holes, while 18-year-old Schaper made an eagle on the par four fifth.
Ryan Cairns, David Micheluzzi and Gavin Moynihan were having the best of the Firethorn Course at four under.