From The European Tour
The new campaign began at the stunning Leopard Creek Country Club with a host of Challenge Tour and Qualifying School graduates beginning their rookie campaigns.
Defending champion Branden Grace and Major Championship winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel were also in an impressive field but all eyes were on Fasth as he teed off in the first group of the morning, becoming the 31st player to make 500 appearances.
And the 43 year old did not disappointment, opening with a birdie and then recording three more alongside an eagle and two bogeys to get to four under, three shots behind Christiaan Basson.
Four-time Sunshine Tour winner Basson was one of a large local contingent present in South Africa and he turned in 31 with birdies on the second, fifth, sixth and eighth before three gains in four holes from the 11th got him to seven under.
Englishman Matt Ford, who secured his playing privileges with an impressive tie for seventh at the UBS Hong Kong Open, was then two shots back after an eagle, five birdies and two bogeys in his opening 16 holes.
Fasth’s playing partner, Mark Williams of Zimbabwe, was also five under after signing for a round of 67 with a birdie-birdie finish that was also helped by an eagle on the par four fourth.
Ryan Tipping was alongside Fasth after recording a 68 which included a run of five birdies from the 14th, ahead of a large group of players at three under including Doug McGuigan who was in the clubhouse with a 69.
Oosthuizen had started on the tenth and turned in 33 thanks to birdies on the 12th, 13th, 15th and 18th. Another birdie followed on the first but he then double-bogeyed the second and dropped another shot on third to drop to two under.
Grace was playing alongside Oosthuizen and sat a shot behind his partner after turning in level par with a double-bogey on the 14th but he picked a shot up at the third.