George Coetzee carded five-under-par 66 to lie one shot off leaders Richard Green and Graeme Storm at the end of round one in the Open de France.
Coetzee felt confident after finishing tied third at the BMW International Open last week in Germany: ÂI think last weekÂs third place kind of took a lot of pressure off me,Â he said.
The Pretoria Country Club professional opened his round with birdies on the first, third and fifth holes to move to a share of sixth early in his round.
The 24-year-old made his next birdie on the par-five ninth, his card reading four-under-par before he made the turn. Coetzee and Green scored consecutive birdies on the 12th, 13th and 14th, which proved to be the scoring holes on day one. Storm carded birdies on the 13th and 14th.
The trio of birdies put Coetzee in first place at seven-under-par, one shot clear of the field.
Coetzee, who won the Telkom PGA Championship earlier this year, found the water hazard on the tricky 15th and dropped a shot, thus sharing the lead at six-under-par.
He dropped a further shot on the 17th and ended his round tied for third place with Thorbjørn Olesen and James Morrison.
Hennie Otto finished at two-under-par after he carded an opening round of 69. He is currently tied for 17th and four shots off the lead.
Further down in the field are Thomas Aiken at two-over-par, Keith Horne at six-over-par and James Kingston at seven-over-par. Jaco van Zyl was one of four players disqualified for taking a drop in the incorrect area on the 18th. He carded level-par for the day.