Conor Purcell and Paul Dunne set the Irish pace at the Farmfoods Scottish Challenge supported by the R&A as both players opened with respectable two-under 69s at Newmachar Golf Club.
Purcell, who is coming off an impressive performance at the Challenge de Espana a week ago, carded four birdies and two bogeys in his first round in Aberdeenshire, while Dunne had one less of both score to join him at two-under.
The pair are already five shots back, however, as England’s Nathan Kimsey set the early target with a seven-under 64 which has him one shot clear of the chasing pack after seven birdies led to a bogey-free outing.
Purcell is a man in form at present and he will be driven on by the disappointment of his Sunday performance in Spain last week, which he channelled into his 69 as he birdied three of his first seven holes, before finishing strongly with a birdie at the 16th after bogeys on the eighth and 12th.
Greystones man Dunne would match him after bouncing back from an early bogey at the 14th – having started on the back-nine – as birdies at the 16th, first and third left him also in a share of 15th.
Holywood teenager Tom McKibbin also got off to a promising start with two birdies and a bogey in a one-under 70 to sit tied for 31st, the same position Kinsale’s John Murphy finds himself in as he had a wild round that featured an eagle, four birdies, three bogeys and a double.
Things will have to improve for the other three players if they wish to make the cut, though, with Mallow’s James Sugrue the best placed to do so, but he is down in 107th after three bogeys ensured he would finish at three-over.
Gavin Moynihan and Charlie Williams need big second rounds, though, as they finished at five-over and seven-over respectively after rounds of 76 and 78.