West shared the lead with Trevor Fisher Jnr, Jacques Blaauw and PH McIntyre, a shot clear of three players – Jean Hugo, Chris Swanepoel, and Adilson da Silva – on four-under-par 68.
West had to qualify for a number of events this season, including this tournament, and said the experience helped his play.
“Having to qualify teaches you to go low,” West told sunshinetour.com after his round.
“In my amateur career, and when I started as a pro, I tried to protect myself against par, and in qualifiers you’ve got to go under par or you’re not going to be playing – so I’d say it’s taught me to go low.”
West topped the qualifier for this tournament with a six-under-par 66, and while he took one stroke more in the opening round, it was bogey-free.
“The course is playing soft,” said West.
“So the ball just stays where it lands. That makes the fairways and the landing areas a lot easier to hit. And I think driving’s very important around here, so if you can just get it in the fairway, it’s a lot easier to score.”
For West, the difficulty of having to routinely qualify had been useful. “In my practice round, I thought it was a really tough golf course,” said West.
“But then I drove it better in the qualifying round, and I saw that there are a lot of scoring holes out there if you get it off the tee box well.”