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Darren Fichardt set the standard as he took the lead midway through the first day of the Tshwane Open with a seven-under-par round of 65.
Fichardt, who is bidding for his second consecutive European Tour title on home soil after winning the Africa Open, started on the back nine and fired five birdies to card 31.
Birdies on the first, 685-yard par-five fourth and then the sixth hole were followed by a bogey on the seventh as he finished two shots ahead of his nearest rivals - England's Gary Lockerbie, Chile's Mark Tullo and India's Jeev Milkha Singh.
Lockerbie, who joined the European Tour in 2007, made 36 on the front nine which included birdies on the third and seventh, but two bogeys then set him back before a score of 31 on the back nine saw him turn things around.
Tullo also signed for a first-round 67 after collecting five birdies in a solid round, with Singh tying the pair for second place.
Ireland's Damien McGrane was a further shot back in a four-way tie for fifth place with Peter Uihlein of the United States and South Africans Vaughn Groenewald and Merrick Bremner.
Jose Maria Olazabal, the 2012 European Ryder Cup captain, endured a poor opening round and had to settle for a four-over-par 76.
Darren Clarke, 2011 Open champion, tees off this afternoon.