Ben Evans turned in 31 to open up a one-shot lead early on day one of the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg.

The Englishman came through the Qualifying School for the second consecutive year in November and is making his third start of the season having secured a top 30 finish at the opening event in Hong Kong.

He was in the first group out over the Bushwillow Course at Randpark Golf Club and played his opening nine holes in four under to sit a shot ahead of South Africa’s Bryce Easton.

Dean Burmester, Ewen Ferguson, Stephen Ferreira, Joachim B Hansen Thirston Lawrence and Bernd Ritthammer were then at two under.

Evans made a flying start with birdies at the first and second and added further gains at the fifth and sixth.

Easton was also playing the Bushwillow and he birdied the first, third and fourth in his first six holes.

Ferguson was the only player in the top eight playing the Firethorn Course and the Scot birdied the third and fourth in six holes.

Local favourite Burmester had only played one hole but holed out on the first for an eagle, while Dane Hansen made a birdie-birdie start in is first four.

German Ritthammer had gains on the first and fifth in his first five holes, with Lawrence and Ferreira having played six and four holes respectively.

Four-time Major Champion Ernie Els was then in a large group of players at one under.