Francesco Molinari may be relinquishing his Race to Dubai crown on Sunday but he got off to a quick start to the season finale at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
The Italian was crowned European Number One in 2018 with the help of victories at The Open Championship and the BMW PGA Championship and he birdied three of his first seven holes at Jumeirah Golf Estates as he looks for a second Rolex Series title.
He was three under alongside in-form Belgian Thomas Detry and Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera.
Detry made a flying start with birdies on the first, second and third and he was soon joined by Lorenzo-Vera, who eagled the par five second and picked up a shot on the third.
Lorenzo-Vera bogeyed the next but then birdied the seventh to get to three under after ten holes.
Detry, meanwhile, made nine pars in a row as Molinari made his move with gains on the second, third and fifth.
Romain Langasque, Tom Lewis, Li Haotong and Richard Sterne were a shot off the lead with 17 players under par.
Race to Dubai leader Bernd Wiesberger was out in the final group of the day, trying to hold off the challenge of Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry and Matthew Fitzpatrick in the battle for the Harry Vardon Trophy.