Lee Westwood carded six birdies and an eagle to share a one-shot lead after day one of the Scottish Open at its new Castle Stuart venue near Inverness.
The world number two began at the 10th and holed a four-foot eagle putt at the 607-yard 18th during a seven under 65.
That was matched by world number 232 Mark Tullo from Chile, with top-ranked Luke Donald one of 13 on five under.
Colin Montgomerie, needing a top-five finish to stand a chance of qualifying for the Open, also returned a 67.
Montgomerie, who skippered Europe to Ryder Cup victory last year, made a strong start in his bid to secure a place at next week's Championship for the 22nd consecutive year.
The 48-year-old, playing with Donald, had five birdies and eagled the par-five second, his 11th.
He was six under coming up the last only for an errant drive to result in a closing bogey five.
"Any time you play with the world number one and equal him around the course you've done OK but I should have done better," said the eight-time European number one.
"When I made eagle I thought I was on to something but then I bogeyed two of the easiest holes. To miss the ninth fairway was a disaster. The thing's 110 yards wide. I had to hit my second shot backwards.
"I'm disappointed but then if I wasn't disappointed, I'd give up. I'm here to do well - I'm here to win."
Westwood can regain his world number one ranking from Donald if he wins the event and he also began well on a wet and blustery day in Scotland.
"I played well and it's a nice way to start the next two weeks," said Westwood. "I've no superstition about winning the week before a major. The more pressure I can get myself under the better - I like having the pressure."
Tullo's most notable achievement prior to this week was denying Rory McIlroy to win the Egyptian Open on the Challenge Tour last October.
The 33-year-old, in his first season on the European Tour, birdied his first four holes and then five of the back nine.
Donald, who became world number one when he won the PGA Championship at Wentworth at the end of May, has not played in the traditional Open warm-up event since finishing tied for fourth in Loch Lomond in 2007.
The WGC Match Play champion was level par at the turn but five birdies in his closing nine holes put him in contention.
World number six Phil Mickelson faces a battle to survive the cut after a frustrating 73, which contained a double bogey at the 14th when his approach shot from the fairway finished in a hollow just off the green and he took four more from there.
The most remarkable round was that of Scotsman Marc Warren, who started with a triple-bogey seven, but then had seven successive birdies - one off the European Tour record - and returned a 67.