Syme defied winds gusting up to 35mph at St Francis Links to card seven birdies and three bogeys in a four-under-par 68 as France's David Ravetto and Norway's Kristian Krogh Johannessen set the pace on five under.
"It was very challenging, to be fair," the 27-year-old said. "There were a lot of tees moved up to make it a bit more playable for us, but it was tough.
"You had to keep your ball flight down and I used my experience from playing in Scotland by hitting a lot of low drivers and punched shots into the wind. Overall, I definitely made a few mistakes but a lot of good birdies.
"I drove it nicely and that's really the main challenge of this golf course. The fairways are generous enough but, if you miss them, you are absolutely screwed."
Ravetto, who is ranked 579th in the world, carded six birdies and a solitary bogey in his 67, while Johannessen recorded the only bogey-free round of the day.
However, the shot of the day belonged to Netherlands' Joost Luiten, who recovered from a triple-bogey seven on the eighth with the aid of an albatross on the par-five 13th in his opening 69.