Jonathan Thomson shot a career-best round of 64 to take a two-shot lead after day one of Made in Denmark.
With several leading European players pushing for the final automatic qualification spot for September's Ryder Cup, it was Englishman Thomson, currently ranked 216th in the Race to Dubai standings, who took control, birdying nine holes and dropping just one shot to finish 8-under-par.
Thompson is two shots clear of a group of seven players, including home favourite Lucas Bjerregaard, South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout and American Hunter Stewart, who opened his round with five straight birdies.
Thorbjorn Olesen currently holds the eighth and final spot, and knows a win on home soil would seal his spot on Thomas Bjorn's team, but had a difficult opening round of 73. Things could have been ever worse for the Dane were it not for two birdies in his final three holes, which brought his score down to 1 over.
Out of the two, Pepperell shot the lowest score after a turbulent round of 2 under. The Englishman shot a double-bogey-seven at the 8th but recovered with an eagle two holes later, only to drop a further shot at the penultimate hole.
Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, shot an even-par-72 and will need to make up ground during Friday's day two in order to book his place at Le Golf National.