Kennedy is part of a three-way tie after posting a 4-under 66 at the limited field Nippon Series JT Cup which features just 30 players.
With four birdies, an eagle and two bogeys, Kennedy matched the scores of South Africa’s Shaun Norris and Korea’s Young Han Song to be one ahead of 13-time Tour winner K.T Kim.
One of three Australians in the field, Kennedy is the only one under par with Brendan Jones 1-over and Todd Sinnott 2-over.
Jones is a former winner of the tournament having hoisted the trophy in 2007 while Sinnott is teeing up for the first time.
Kennedy’s previous record at the Yomiuri Country Club is less than stellar with his best finish in five appearances coming in 2012 when T14.
None of that was in evidence Thursday, however, with Kennedy posting two birdies and an eagle against a lone bogey on his outward nine to turn 3-under before adding two more gains and another dropped shot on the way to the clubhouse.
The limited field means Kennedy will be paired with his co-leaders for tomorrow’s second round, the trio teeing off as the last group of the day.
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