Hennie Otto and Rowe set the early mark and as the day wrapped up at Royal Cape Golf Club their target remained unchallenged.
Otto was consistent as he reeled in three pairs of birdies at the first and second, fifth and sixth and 11th and 12th before draining a final birdie putt at the par-four 18th.
Coming off a tie for 21st on the European Tour’s DP World Tour Championship on Sunday, Otto completed his round in loops of 33 to join Rowe in pole position.
While most of the players in the 156-strong field would focus on their gains, the three-time European Tour winner had a lone bogey at the 470 metre, par-four third.
Four weeks of hard graft with renowned coach Jamie Gough to correct his swing has made a world of difference to his game, he said.
“Three weeks ago, my bogeys outnumbered my birdies in the World Golf Championship,” Otto said.
“This is what we have been working towards and it’s really great to get off to this kind of start.
“To shoot six-under in the first round is always good and I’ll take that score any day.”
Otto has been at it non-stop for 14 weeks and finished 46th in the Race to Dubai, but taking the week off was not an option.
“The opportunity to clinch the final spot into the Nedbank Golf Challenge next week, is too big to pass up,” he said.
“I grew up watching the Million Dollar and I had to come out here and try to win. It’s nice to get yourself in contention early on, to give yourself a chance.”
Rowe used four practice rounds to come to grips with the 6,235 metre layout and racked in five straight birdies from the fourth in the blustery conditions.
He rattled home three more birdies on the back nine to dip to eight under, but the 27-year-old Port Elizabeth golfer lost the advantage with back-to-back bogeys at 15 and 16.
Titch Moore, a two-time winner this season, top-contender Danie van Tonder and Omar Sandys were among the seven players lurking a shot off the pace.
Zimbabwe’s Mark Williams returned a 69 to tie for 15th, while Vaughn Groenewald joined defending champion Tjaart van der Walt in the 15-man bus at one-under 71.
Keith Horne was going along nicely, but a seven at the par-five 16th was the seven-time Sunshine Tour winner slip to joint 66th on one over 73.
Teboho Sefatsa, Louis de Jager and PH McIntyre registered respective rounds of 75, 78 and 81.