Queenslander Jake McLeod is one of six players tied for second alongside Englishmen Alfie Plant and Ross Fisher, with South African duo Zander Lombard and Justin Harding and Italy's Renato Paratore joining them.

Starting on the back nine, the three-time European Tour winner Pieters made birdies on the 12th and 13th holes and another on the 17th to turn in 32, before adding four more birdies on the front nine.

"I hit my wedges and short irons really close to the hole," Pieters said.

"I think I had maybe 10 good chances for birdie and made seven of them.

"I thought with the wind it's going to play quite easy. If you play in the morning, you're going to have to make a good score."

Pieters leads by two shots after the opening round of the inaugural Saudi International. PHOTO: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.

Plant scorched the back nine with seven birdies to turn in 28, but slipped back after carding bogeys on the par-4 6th and 9th holes.

"It's a good start," he said.

"Pretty much flagged it all the way on the front nine, which is nice. I always thought the front nine was a little bit more challenging. You've got to hit a lot more good shots."

World No.1 Justin Rose finished at par in a tie for 65th place after making three birdies and three bogeys, with American Brooks Koepka, the World No.2 a shot ahead on 69 in a group that included former Masters champion Sergio Garcia.

Dustin Johnson edged ahead of Rose and Koepka after signing for a two-under 68 to sit alongside fellow American Bryson DeChambeau, last week's Dubai Desert Classic champion, and Sweden's Henrik Stenson in a group tied for 31st place.