Callum Shinkwin carded a superb 66 to earn a one-shot advantage after the first round of KLM Open in Amsterdam.
The Englishman is in danger of losing his playing privileges following a stop-start campaign but belied his 446th place in the world rankings to take advantage of ideal scoring conditions in the morning to finish on six-under-par at The International.
Gavin Moynihan is leading the Irish charge. He opened with a two-under 70 that leaves him four off the leader, one shot better than compatriots Padraig Harrington and Paul Dunne, who picked up a late birdie to head for the clubhouse on one-under.
Shinkwin, 26, was forced to withdraw at the Omega European Masters last month due to food poisoning before retiring during the second round of last week's Porsche European Open with a back injury and needs some good results to ensure another season on the European Tour.
However, he eased his pain when he reached the turn in 32, courtesy of an eagle, three birdies and one dropped shot, before a blemish-free back nine - which included two more gains - helped him to the top of the leaderboard.
"My golf as of late has not been great as has my health as well," Shinkwin told europeantour.com. "But the golf is still not there, still very uncomfortable, but I managed to turn it round today and shoot a good round of 66.
"I'm just working hard and if I'm feeling uncomfortable then that means I'm doing the right things."
English trio Chris Paisley, Matthew Southgate and Sam Horsfield, Scotland's Marc Warren, Malaysian Gavin Green, Swede Per Langfors and 18-year-old Dane Nicolai Hojgaard were in the seven-strong chasing pack following rounds of five-under-par 67.
Sergio Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion and 15-time European Tour winner, led another group of seven players which sit one shot further adrift at the 100th edition of the KLM Open, with only James Morrison threatening the leaderboard from the afternoon starters to sit at four under.
Defending champion Wu Ashun remained in contention at three under par alongside two-time tournament winner Joost Luiten, who was three over after nine holes but carded six birdies on his back nine to join the Chinese player and eight others for a round of 69.