Christiaan Bezuidenhout fired a bogey-free 66 to sit two back of Jonathan Thomson after the first round at the Made in Denmark.
Thomson, 22, was diagnosed with leukaemia aged seven but continued to play golf throughout a five-year battle with the disease before going into remission as a 12-year-old.
Eight years later, he was a professional and last season he came through all three stages of the Qualifying School to earn his European Tour card and – at six feet, nine and a half inches – become the tallest player in Tour history.
He equalled the course record at last month’s Porsche European Open and his eight-under-par 64 on Thursday would have entered the record books at Silkeborg Ry Golf Club, had preferred lies not been in place.
What his round did do was hand the Englishman a two-shot lead over countryman Matthew Baldwin, local favourite Lucas Bjerregaard, Bezuidenhout, New Zealander Josh Geary, Australian Brett Rumford and American Hunter Stewart.
In the race for the final automatic qualifying place for the Ryder Cup Team, English pair Matthew Fitzpatrick and Eddie Pepperell were both seeking the victory they needed to potentially dislodge local favourite Thorbjorn Olesen.
Olesen opened with a 73 in the morning but remained in the driving seat as Fitzpatrick carded a 72 and Pepperell a 70.
Fitzpatrick was playing alongside Ryder Cup vice-captain Robert Karlsson, who opened with a 72 in his 600th European Tour event.
Thomson has played just 17 events in a shaky start to life on Tour but has made four of his last five cuts as he battles to retain his playing privileges at 216th on the Race to Dubai Rankings.
Erik van Rooyen was SA’s next best on -5 after a round that included an eagle, six birdies and three drops.
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