Justin Walters carded a brilliant 63 at St Andrews to set the clubhouse target on day one of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The South African has not recorded a top 20 in 23 events so far on the 2019 Race to Dubai but picked quite the venue to find his form, moving to nine under at the home of golf.
That was his lowest European Tour round for six years and gave him a one shot lead over Frenchman Victor Perez, who had also tackled the Old Course.
England's Matthew Southgate carded a brilliant 65 at Carnoustie to sit at seven under alongside Finn Tapio Pulkkanen and England's Jordan Smith, who were coming to the end of their rounds.
Home favourite Russell Knox was in the clubhouse at six under alongside Nino Bertasio, George Coetzee, Tommy Fleetwood, Marcus Fraser, Matthew Jordan and Marcus Kinhult.
Home favourite Knox set the early pace as he birdied the first, fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth to turn in 31 but he was soon joined by Walters who, playing the Old Course the other way round, picked up shots on the tenth, 11th, 12th, 16th and 17th.
Knox edged himself back into the solo lead with a birdie at the 11th but over at Carnoustie, Southgate was on the charge.
The 30-year-old had birdied the first and sixth but came to life on the back nine, surrounding an eagle on the 12th with birdies on the tenth, 13th and 14th to jump into the lead.
Walters was keeping pace with a birdie on the third but Knox soon joined the lead with a gain on the 15th.
Bogeys would follow on the 16th and 17th for Knox before a closing birdie as Southgate parred his way home to set the target, but it would be Walters who jumped ahead.
The World Number 444 birdied the fifth and then added another gain from eight feet on the next to jump to eight under.
Walters had a stroke of bad luck as he hit the flag on the seventh but he managed to make par, as Perez charged through the field to join him at the top.
The European Challenge Tour graduate played the back nine at St Andrews in 33 but birdied the first, second, fifth and sixth and, when he put an approach to seven feet on the next, he was tied at the top.
He was not tied for long, though, as Walters holed a wonderful 20 footer on the ninth to sign for a 63 and set the target.
Fleetwood - a two time runner up at this event - holds the course record at Carnoustie with a 63 and he dropped a single shot with birdies on the 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th, fourth, sixth and eighth.
Kinhult came home in a wonderful 30 after starting on the back nine at the Old Course, while Bertasio picked up four shots in his last five holes.
Fraser and Coetzee were both bogey free, while Jordan had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.