The 46-year-old amassed 14 points on the back of eight birdies and two bogeys at the Montreux Golf and Country Club in Reno to share second spot with Argentina’s Miguel Angel Carballo. American John Huh holds the outright lead with 15 points.
The unorthodox scoring system awards eight points for an albatross, five for an eagle and two for a birdie while pars earn nothing and bogeys (one point) and doubles or worse (three points) see points deducted.
Appleby began his day on the 10th and turned with six points after three birdies and no dropped shots but things heated up on the inward half for the nine time PGA Tour winner. He mixed two pars with five birdies and two dropped shots for an eight point total and a share of second place in a tournament that has already seen two Australian winners since switching to this format in 2012.
Geoff Ogilvy resurrected his career here with a win in 2014 while Greg Chalmers claimed his maiden PGA Tour title after 385 starts when he hung on for victory last year.
Ogilvy was at less than his best on day one, a costly double bogey on the 17th hole dropping him outside the top 100 but the 2006 US Open winner clawing two points back with a birdie at the last to finish with a total of three points and T86.
Chalmers, however, was clearly in his comfort zone with an 11-point round to be T10 heading to Friday.
Appleby will be particularly pleased with his performance in what has been a difficult 2017 season.
He has made just three cuts in 14 starts for the year and has also withdrawn twice though showed glimpses of form early in the season with a top 10 finish on the Web.com Tour.
Also performing well in the opening round despite a disappointing finish was recent Senior graduate Peter Lonard.
Fresh off a third place finish on debut at the Senior Open in Wales, Lonard continued his good from with five birdies against three bogeys, the last coming at his final hole of the day to drop him down the leaderboard.
With a six-point total Lonard is T48 though the volatile nature of the format means he is still well in the hunt.
Rookie Curtis Luck also finished with six points thanks to a final hole birdie, Matt Jones’ hopes of getting back to the PGA Tour treading water as he, too, posted a six point round.
Aaron Baddeley and Brett Drewitt both accrued five points for their respective rounds to be T63.
Robert Allenby finished alongside Ogilvy with three points, Steven Bowditch is on two points and Cameron Percy signed for one point.