Scotland's Scott Jamieson recorded a seven-under-par opening round of 65 to lie one shot behind the leaders at the Italian Open near Turin.
English duo Robert Rock and Chris Wood, who are also seeking maiden European Tour titles, lead the way.
Jamieson is tied with Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark and Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello at Royal Park Golf Club.
Richie Ramsay is two shots further back, but fellow Scotsman Colin Montgomerie shot a disappointing 75.
The former European number one's three-over-par round included a double bogey at the 13th.
After crashing out of the Wales Open on 15-over a week ago, Montgomerie knows he is facing a battle to make sure of his place at this year's Open.