Mike Lorenzo-Vera shot the lowest opening round in tournament history to set the clubhouse target on day one of the season ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
The Frenchman had a four birdie finish in a round of 63 that moved him to nine under and matched his lowest ever round to par on the European Tour.
World Number Two Rory McIlroy was in the group in second four shots back after a flying start in his first seven holes, alongside Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello and England's Tom Lewis, who was in the clubhouse with a 67 at the eighth Rolex Series event of the season.
Lorenzo-Vera eagled the par five second before picking up a shot on the third and while he bogeyed the next, a birdie on the seventh had him in a share of the lead at the turn.
He hit the front on his own after a birdie on the 11th but he was joined by Lewis, who holed a 12 footer on the 15th to go with birdies on the third, ninth, 11th and 14th and a bogey on the fifth.
Lorenzo-Vera birdied the 13th as Lewis dropped a stroke on the 17th and, when the leader holed a huge left to right putt on the 15th, he was six under.
Lewis hit a stunning second to seven feet at the par five last to set the target just a shot back but Lorenzo-Vera was flying, putting an approach to six feet at the 16th and birdieing the 17th to lead by three.
McIlroy was soon in a share of second as he made an incredible start at an event he has won twice before.
After lipping out for birdie at the first, he made a two putt gain on the second and put his approach to three feet for the next.
It could have been four birdies from four when he lipped out again on the fourth but he holed long right to lefters on the fifth and sixth before a two putt birdie on the seventh moved him to five under.
Lorenzo-Vera was not in the mood to be caught, however, and he spun his approach at the last to five feet after laying up to make another birdie.
Cabrera Bello made gains on the third, seventh, ninth, 11th and 13th to also sit at five under, a shot clear of Swede Marcus Kinhult.
Tommy Fleetwood made a spectacular eagle from the fairway on the first as he got to three under after five holes to sit alongside Thomas Detry, Benjamin Hebert and Justin Rose.
Fleetwood's fellow Race to Dubai contender Jon Rahm was at two under, a shot clear of Shane Lowry and two ahead of Matthew Fitzpatrick, with leader Bernd Wiesberger at one over.