Gregory Bourdy fired an 8-under 63 on Thursday and leads the field by two strokes after one round of the European Masters.
Bourdy didn't have a single bogey, and got off to a good start as he pursues a top finish that has eluded him all season. He has missed the cut seven times in 2012, and his best finish was a share of 11th at the Open de Andalucia in March.
The Frenchman has won three times on the European Tour, but not since 2009.
Fredrik Andersson Hed and Oliver Fisher are tied for second place after carding 6-under 65s, while five players are another shot back at minus-5. That group includes Anirban Lahiri, Rhys Davies, Robert Coles, Scott Barr and David Howell.
Defending champion Thomas Bjorn stumbled to a 3-over 74, giving him long odds of repeating his title.
Bourdy was in the afternoon wave of groups starting at the 10th tee, and began his round with a birdie. He also sank birdies at 15 and 17 to make the turn at 3-under, which put him near the top of the leaderboard and in position to contend for first place.
He didn't waste the opportunity, turning in a stellar front nine that he began with back-to-back birdies.
Bourdy reached 6-under with a birdie at No. 5, and ran off two more in a row -- at Nos. 7 and 8 -- to vault into the lead. He capped his round with a par to head into the clubhouse as the leader.
"I only missed one shot all day, but still managed to save par," Bourdy said. "My attitude was very good. I was very positive and that's why I finished very well."
Andersson and Fisher used late runs to get near the lead, as they both drained five birdies during the second halves of their rounds. However, the pair could have been a shot closer to Bourdy if they didn't stumble to one bogey each. Andersson's came at the 13th, while Fisher's was at 11.
Eight players are tied for ninth place, having shot 4-under 67s. Among those players are Danny Willett, who won the BMW International Open in June; and Stephen Gallacher, who is coming off a sixth-place finish at the Johnnie Walker Championship.
NOTES: European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal posted a 1-over 72...Miguel Angel Jimenez, who won this event two years ago, shot a 6-over 77 and is tied for 145th place.