Victor Perez continued his fine start to the European Tour season as he shared the early lead with Chikkarangappa S at the Mauritius Open on Thursday.
The Frenchman has made big strides in recent weeks, finishing third at the Hong Kong Open after winning the Foshan Open on the Challenge Tour in October.
And Perez was in scintillating form at Anahita as he made nine birdies – including seven in 10 holes in a devastating stretch – with a sole bogey seeing him card an eight-under 64 in the opening round.
It had looked as though that would be enough to give Perez the outright overnight lead, yet Chikkarangappa, one of the last players to finish, birdied the 18th in a bogey-free round to match him.
Chikkarangappa has only previously been in the money at four European Tour events.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 29, 2018
The pair nudged one shot clear of early leader Jaco van Zyl, who had finished with an eagle after a steady round, with the South African joined by Masahiro Kawamura and Kurt Kitayama.
Defending champion Dylan Frittelli is back in a tie for 22nd at three under, alongside Ernie Els, who designed the course. Arjun Atwal, beaten in a play-off last year, stuttered to one over.