As the 2019 campaign swung into action on a cool and windy morning at Fanling, Grant Forrest carded a level-par 70, one less than his three fellow Challenge Tour graduates, Liam Johnston, David Law and Bob MacIntyre.
Those opening efforts have left the quartet with good chances of making the cut in their first outing since securing a seat at the top table in European golf, but it was the more experienced Drysdale who fared best among the Scottish contingent.
Enjoying calmer weather as one of the afternoon starters, the 43-year-old from Cockburnspath opened with a two-under 68 to sit joint-ninth, three shots behind pacesetters Aaron Rai, Jason Scrivener and Yusaku Miyazato.
Drysdale, who finished 107th in the Race to Dubai last season after his game lacked the consistency that has been his hallmark over the years, birdied the first and fourth before running up a triple-bogey 6 at the 214-yard fifth hole.
That was a huge setback but, on his 468th appearance on the circuit, he manfully repaired the damage to his card with birdies at the 11th, 15th and 17th to come back in 33.
Forrest, who secured his card by finishing seventh in the Challenge Tour’s Road to Ras Al Khaimah, also birdied the opening hole but then dropped shots at the second, seventh and eighth.
Coming home, the 25-year-old from North Berwick birdied the 12th, 13th and 15th but also had a bogey at the 14th in that run. He sits joint-41st while Law, Johnston and MacIntyre are in a share of 53rd position.
Aberdonian Law, who was helped in securing his step up to the top tour by a maiden Challenge Tour win in the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore in June, had an eagle at 13th in the middle of a run that also saw him card a birdie and three bogeys.
Taking up where he left off at the end of the Challenge Tour campaign, 22-year-old Oban left-hander MacIntyre produced a solid effort that contained a birdie and two bogeys while, in contrast, Johnston, a three-time winner in 2018, had a mixed bag of three birdies and four bogeys.
Thailand-based Simon Yates, a sixth player flying the Saltire in the event, opened with a two-over 72 to sit joint-72nd after he bogeyed his last hole.
Englishman Rai carded an eagle and three birdies in a bogey-free effort as he set the pace along with Australian Scrivener and Miyazato of Japan.
Tommy Fleetwood opened with a 69, one less than Ryder Cup team-mate Sergio Garcia, but Masters champion Patrick Reed had a day to forget as he slumped to a 75 that left him sitting joint-113th.