Christiaan Bezuidenhout's bid to secure back to back European Tour titles got off to a strong start as he posted an opening 67 to claim a share of the early clubhouse lead on day one of the 2020 South African Open.
Fresh from his magnificent four shot victory at last week's Alfred Dunhill Championship, home favourite Bezuidenhout - starting at the tenth - made five birdies on his front nine before mixing one birdie with the only bogey of his round on the back nine to head into the clubhouse on five under par.
Fellow South Africans Jacques Kruyswijk and Dean Burmester were alongside Bezuidenhout at the top of the leaderboard at Gary Player Country Club, as was Austrian Matthias Schwab after he made an eagle and three birdies in a flawless first round.
Bezuidenhout has enjoyed enormous success on home soil so far this year, winning the Dimension Data Pro-Am - co-sanctioned by the European Challenge Tour - in February before clinching his second European Tour title at Leopard Creek Country Club four days ago.
And the 26-year-old continued to shine on Thursday morning as he opened his first round with successive birdies at the tenth and 11th before taking advantage of the two par threes on his front nine - the 13th and 16th.
Bezuidenhout, who is up to ninth on the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex following last week's win, reached the turn in 31 after picking up another shot at the long 18th.
He began his homeward nine with another birdie to jump to six under but gave the shot back on the short third.
The World Number 41 gave himself chances to go even lower towards the end of his round but was unable to convert his birdie tries from inside ten feet at the seventh and ninth.
After carding four birdies and a solitary bogey in his first nine holes Burmester, who also started from the tenth tee, reeled off a hat-trick of gains at the third, fourth and fifth to climb to the head of the leaderboard on six under.
He would remain alone at the top of the pile until a bogey on the ninth - his final hole - saw him drop into a share of the lead.
Schwab turned in 33 courtesy of birdies at the 11th, 15th and 18th, before draining his 25 foot eagle putt at the first to get to five under.
Kruyswijk, meanwhile, made four birdies and two bogeys on the front nine before adding further birdies at the 11th, 14th and 15th.
South Africa's Dylan Frittelli and Frenchman Matthieu Pavon were a single shot off the lead in a tie for fifth.