Manawatu professional Tim Wilkinson shot a superb six-under par 66 at the Thornblade Club to be tied fourth after round one of the BMW Charity Pro-Am in South Carolina.
The former PGA Tour player, currently 49th on the Nationwide order of merit, carded seven birdies and a bogey in his best start to a tournament in 2012 to be two shots back from leader Darron Stiles of the United States.
Also in the mix, Hamilton professional Steve Alker is tied ninth after a five-under par 67 to be only three shots back from the leader.
Wilkinson has made five cuts from seven events in 2012 with a best finish of 12th at the Chile Classic, while Alker, currently 41st on the order of merit, has made the weekend in three of seven events with a best performance of fourth in Chile.
The pair need to finish inside the top 25 on the Nationwide order of merit to automatically qualify for the PGA Tour in 2013.
Tauranga professional Josh Geary, playing in his third appearance on the Nationwide Tour in 2012 and looking to make his first cut, made a disappointing start with a four-over par 76 to be tied 156th.
Meanwhile, New Zealand No 1 Danny Lee is off the pace after round one of the Byron Nelson Championship on the PGA Tour after carding a one-over par 73 to be tied 84th.
Lee, currently 158th on the Fed Ex Cup standings and in need of a good run of form to be included in the playoff series, made three birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey on the par five 7th.
He is seven shots back from American Ryan Palmer who claimed the lead with a six under par 66.
The former US Amateur champion has made the cut in six out of 10 events in 2012, withdrawing with injury in his 11th event and being disqualified in the 12th at Quail Hollow for signing an incorrect scorecard.
Lee needs to climb more than 30 places get within the top 125 players on the Fed Ex Cup standings to qualify for the Barclays - the first of four events on the Fed Ex Cup playoff season beginning on August 23.
In Japan, Waikato professional David Smail has fired a three-under par 69 to be in a share of 45th place at the Totoumi Hamamatsu Open.
The Kiwi, who has won five times on the Japan Golf Tour, bounced back from a missed cut last week with five birdies and two bogeys to be five shots back from Japanese professionals Dong-Kyu Jang and Yoshinori Fujimoto.
Smail has made the cut in three out of four events in 2012 with a best finish a tie for 20th at the Tsuruya Open.
In Korea, Wellington professional Mark Brown is the best of the Kiwis after round one of the SK Telecom Open on the OneAsia Tour, opening with an even par 72 to be tied 26th.
Australia-based Kiwi Michael Long, who finished tied 41st last week at the Maekyung Open, is one shot further back after he carded a one over par 73 to be in a share of 40th place.
Michael Hendry, who has previously finished fifth at the event, is also tied 40th after mixing three birdies and four bogeys.
Wellington professional Gareth Paddison (75) and Hawkes Bay professional Doug Holloway (82) are outside the projected cut-line.