George Coetzee birdied three of his final four holes to start the Turkish Airlines Open with a 7-under-par 64 on Thursday.
Coetzee, from South Africa, had eight birdies and one bogey to secure a one-shot lead over Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen, who had a bogey-free round at the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort.
Jorge Campillo, who made a hole-in-one on the par-3 14th, was two shots back after shooting a 66 in the European Tour event. Li Haotong, Matteo Manassero and Bernd Wiesberger also finished their opening round at 5 under.
"I've been missing a lot of cuts, I was really lucky to get into this event this week and I'm just trying to make the most of it," said the 30-year-old Coetzee, who only qualified after finishing tied for 31st at the Portugal Masters on Oct. 23 and a number of other players withdrew.
"I'm playing better. I'm in a better mood. I wasn't expecting to shoot 64, but I'm really happy with it."
Danny Willett, who needs a top-five finish to overtake Henrik Stenson and return to the top of the Race to Dubai standings, opened with a 2-under 69, good for a tie for 21st.
Among the players who withdrew from the event in the last week was Rory McIlroy, who pulled out presumably because of security concerns.
Turkey has been rocked by several of deadly bomb attacks over the past 18 months, many of which have been blamed on Kurdish rebels or Islamic State group militants. Recently, a car exploded in the parking lot of the nearby Antalya Trade and Industry Chamber, injuring about a dozen people.