Irish pair Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley shared the lead with Austria after the opening World Cup fourballs.
DAY ONE LEADERBOARD
-12 Ireland, Austria
-8 USA, Scotland, Australia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden
Ireland's Ryder Cup stars had a 12-under-par 60 in Seville to match Markus Brier and Martin Wiegele's total.
England remained in contention after a spirited start by young duo Paul Casey and Luke Donald left them on 11-under.
And Japan's Shigeki Maruyama and Hidemichi Tanaka spearheaded the Asian challenge to end two shots back, ahead of hosts Spain and the United States.
Harrington and McGinley were inspired in their first 18 holes.
Four birdies in a row from the second helped them to reach the turn in six-under and McGinley's eagle-three on the 13th gave them a lead.
Birdies at 14 and 16 kept the momentum going before two missed putts denied the pair a sub-60 round.
"We would very much have liked to shoot 59 as it's such a milestone," said Harrington.
"But we got some good breaks early on and we played very well after that."
Austrian underdog Brier said that playing alongside England's Casey and Donald had helped his round.
"Between the four of us we must have been about 16 under," he said.
And Casey, who has become caught up in a trans-Atlantic war of words this week, was satisfied with his start.
"We thought eight or nine under would be a good score so we can't complain," he said.
Wales' Phil Price and Bradley Dredge shot a seven-under-par 65, American pair Bob Tway and Scott Verplank carded a 64, while home favourites Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez went one better.
But South Africa's defending champions Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini could only manage a 66 after two bogeys.