St Mellions man Hunt took pride of place in Perthshire as he opened with a nine-under-par 63, lowering the Lansdowne course record by a shot with an effort that contained an eagle and eight birdies.
But it was also a rewarding day for both in-form O’Hara and experienced campaigner Huthcheon as they posted matching 65s to sit as the pacesetter’s closest challengers.
O’Hara, the 2017 winner, signed for eight birdies to be lurking ominously while a bogey-free effort from Hutcheon was sparked by an opening eagle, which he then followed with five birdies.
Craig Lee (68) and Alastair Forsyth (69) also made promising starts, though Hunt, the 2018 Asbri Welsh National PGA Championship winner in 2018, was quickest out of the blocks in the battle for a £10,000 top prize.
“I had a great start – driver, 5-iron into five feet on the first. Eagle there. Two-iron, wedge to about eight-foot on the second for a birdie,” he said.
“It’s a course that suits me as I’m not the strongest driver and it allows me to play 2-irons. If you hit it 260-270 off the tee on the par-4s, you’re going in with a wedge or 9-iron most of the time. I did that really well and also got the putter going.
“It’s the best I’ve swung it for as far back as I can remember. I haven’t played the course before and I really enjoyed it.”