The 21-year-old carded a three-under-par 69 at Al Mouj Golf in Muscat, where 15 European Tour cards for next season will be decided on Saturday evening.
Neil, who came into the event sitting 16th on the money list, got off to a flyer with birdies at the first two holes before making his other gain on the card at the 12th.
The effort left him sitting joint 11th, two shots off the lead, which was held jointly by Swede Oscar Lengden, Pole Adrian Meronk, Australian Nick Cullen and Argentina’s Tano Gayo.
Grant Forrest, the other Scot in the 45-man strong field, opened with a 70, which was a good effort given that he ran up a triple-bogey 7 at the ninth.
Elsewhere, Kylie Henry made the best start among a sizeable Scottish contingent in the Ladies European Tour’s Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi. On a day when South African Lee-Anne Pace opened with a 66 to set the pace, Henry carded a three-under 69 to sit joint-14th. Gemma Dryburgh and Kelsey MacDonald were next best among the Scots on 70, followed by Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew (71).
Elsewhere, Paul O’Hara lost out by a shot to Englishman Robert Coles in the PGA Play-Offs at Walton Heath.