Gregory Havret had to settle for a three-way share of the Tshwane Open lead despite a stunning front nine on Thursday.
The Frenchman - who has not won on the European Tour for nine years - made a blistering start at the Pretoria Country Club with gains on six holes before the turn, which he made in 29.
A stutter on his way home looked to have cost the 40-year-old a spot at the top of the leaderboard, though, as he dropped shots at the 11th and 13th with bogey fives.
There was a much-needed boost before reaching the clubhouse for Havret as a birdie at 14 was followed by another at the penultimate hole, seeing him card a 65 to match the efforts of home hope Haydn Porteous and Sweden's Alexander Bjork.
The first man to shoot 6 under par 29 on the front nine this season pic.twitter.com/Vd2zxDfks3-- The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) March 2, 2017
"I'm obviously very pleased," said Havret. "I was pretty hot on the front nine.
"The back nine was a bit tougher and I didn't play that great, but I had a couple of good wedges on 14 and 17. They saved me a bit for that back nine.
"With eight birdies overall, my game was quite hot. Wedging was good and putting was good."
Porteous and Bjork started their opening rounds on the 10th tee and enjoyed blemish-free days, the pair matching each other stride for stride.
Four birdies on the way out and two after the turn left the duo and Havret one shot clear of their closest rivals.
Behind them is a group of five on five-under par, including Challenge Tour graduate Duncan Stewart, but the Scot would have been with the leaders had he not bogeyed his last hole.
Seven more players sit a further shot back after rounds of 67, while 2015 champion George Coetzee's card was tarnished by two double bogeys.
Coetzee made seven birdies to begin his quest for the title, but the first and 13th proved his undoing as he had to settle for a three-under 68.