(CNN)_ -- South African George Coetzee carded a seven-under-par 65 to hold a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the Austrian Open at Atzenbrugg.
The 24-year-old posted eight birdies as he attempts to keep his European Tour card for next season.
Coetzee is currently 142nd on the Race to Dubai, with only the top 115 guaranteed a place on the 2011 Tour.
"At this stage of the season I'm doing everything I can to make sure I'm on Tour in 2011," Coetzee told the European Tour website.
"I was very happy to come back here and play this tournament but to be honest I have to play every tournament I can right now to try and keep my card."
Jose Manuel Lara and Australian Terry Pilkadaris lead the chasing pack after rounds of 66, with 2007 Hong Kong Open winner Lara also fighting to retain his Tour card.
The 33-year-old Spaniard is 130th on the Race to Dubai, but came into the event on the back of finishing fourth at last week's KLM Dutch Open.
"I got some confidence from last week and now I'm hitting the ball OK and putting a lot better," said Lara.
Two of Europe's Ryder Cup side are in action this week. Graeme McDowell opened with a three-under-par 69, while Miguel Angel Jiménez bogeyed his last two holes for a level-par 72.