Jeev Milkha Singh opened his defence of the title at the season-ending Nippon Series JT Cup with a one-over 71, which placed him tied 10th and two shots off the four-man lead pack comprising Japan's Hiroyuki Fujita and Masaya Tomida, Australian Brendan Jones and South Korean Kim Kyung Tae.
The leader on the Money List, Ryo Ishikawa and No. 2 Yuta Ikeda both got off to poor starts on Thursday. They shot eight-over 78 each.
Jeev started the event with a birdie on the first, but then dropped a double bogey on the par-4 fourth. He played steady with six pars before dropping a bogey on 11th to go two-over. He got a shot back with a birdie on 17th to finish at 71.
Fujita, coming off a fifth-place finish with Ryuji Imada at the World Cup of Golf in China last week, shared the first-round lead at one-under. Fujita had three birdies and two bogeys, one of which came on the 18th.
The 18-year-old Ishikawa double-bogeyed the fourth hole and triple- bogeyed the seventh in a front-nine 41, while Ikeda mixed three birdies with five bogeys and three double bogeys.
Ishikawa will become the youngest money list winner in Japanese golf history unless Ikeda, 23, claims the winner's prize of 40 million yen on Sunday.