Alexander Levy of France shot a 5-under 66 for a one-shot lead over a group of four including defending champion James Morrison of England after the first round of the Spanish Open on Thursday.
Levy, a two-time European Tour winner, opened with a birdie at the 10th at the southwestern Valderrama course, and consolidated his lead with six more in a nine-hole spread, but mixed that with two bogeys.
Delighted with his round, Levy felt it was "a very tough course, in fantastic condition."
Spaniard Alejandro Canizares, Welshman Stuart Manley and bogey-free Englishman Andrew Johnston all carded 67s alongside Morrison.
Pablo Larrazabal of Spain trailed behind alone in sixth on 3-under 68.
Tournament host Sergio Garcia finished the day on a 3-over 74.