Shane Lowry is six off Ross Fisher's lead going into the second round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge after he carded a 72 in Sun City, South Africa.
Fisher sits two shots clear at the top of the leaderboard after beginning the 2015 Race to Dubai in style, the 34-year-old Englishman completing a six-under-par 66, dropping just one shot.
That fine start gives Fisher daylight to South Africa's George Coetzee, Marcel Siem of Germany and Frenchman Alexander Levy, who all shot 68s, at the Gary Player Country Club.
A further two shots back in joint third are a group of six players, including Scotland's Ryder Cup winner Stephen Gallacher, a trio of local hopes in Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Tim Clark, plus American Brooks Koepka and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, who hit the first tee shot of the new season.
Ireland’s Lowry endured a turbulent front nine before he turned in 38, but he steadied himself from the 10th and carded birdies at 15 and 17 to come home on level par.
The Offaly golfer double-bogeyed the first and dropped further shots a six and seven, though birdies at five and nine kept him afloat before an solid back nine saw him settle for a share of 15th alongside Lee Westwood and Dutchman Joost Luiten.
“One bogey and seven birdies for a round of six under on this golf course - I’ll definitely take that and run,” Fisher said afterwards. “I didn’t miss many fairways out there and played exactly how I wanted to.
“I hit one loose shot on the 16th and made bogey, but you can’t be too disappointed with one bad shot in 18 holes.”
The last of Fisher’s five European Tour wins came in South Africa at the Tshwane Open in March, ending a drought lasting almost four years.
Defending Nedbank Golf Challenge champion Thomas Bjorn is last of the 30-strong field after a poor first round of 80 that included two double-bogeys and five bogeys - having started with a birdie.