It left Richardson - who had been a part of the European team who narrowly lost in Kiawah Island two years ago - one shot behind the South African David Frost and level with another South African, Ernie Els.
Jose-Maria Olazabal shot a three-under-par 69, Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomerie shot 70, while Costantino Rocca shot 72. The holder, Barry Lane, and Bernhard Langer, twice a former winner, were one over par on 73. Of the three Americans in the field, Tom Kite scored 71, Chip Beck 72 and Tom Watson, the successful Ryder Cup captain, 74.
'On the way up to Derby I saw the queues for the first day's play at the Ryder Cup,' Richardson said. 'I missed being there. In some ways perhaps you don't mind not being involved because there is so much pressure, but I would have loved to have played.'
Richardson, who was 16th in the Ryder Cup points table when the team were decided, owed his score to nine single putts even though when he went out late the greens were becoming 'very bumpy'.
After saving par at the first and third with single putts he birdied the fourth, fifth and seventh to go out in 33 and though he bogeyed the 11th and 17th, he had further birdies at the 10th, 12th, 13th and 18th.
Frost, a US Tour regular who is seeking his third successive victory after winning the Canadian Open and the Hadlee's Classic earlier this month, also had nine single putts in his round of 66.
Despite his recent success, Frost still woke up at 1am to ring coach David Leadbetter in America for 'a quick fix'. He said: 'David gave me a drill to work on and it helped. I had never won twice in a row before this month. Three might be a little difficult.'
Els earned his score with a spell of four successive birdies from the 12th, but this run was exceeded by Mark Roe, who had five birdies running from the sixth. He finished two off the lead on 68.
MERCEDES GERMAN OPEN (Stuttgart) Leading first-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 66 D Frost (SA). 67 E Els (SA), S Richardson. 68 M-A Jimenez (Sp), M Hallberg (Swe), R Claydon, F Nobilo (NZ), W Westner (SA), R Karlsson (Swe), R Davis (Aus), M Roe, M-A Martin (Sp). 69 M Pinero (Sp), J-M Olazabal (Sp), G Brand Jnr, G Day (US), D Feherty, J Spence. 70 J Townsend (US), A Sherborne, C Williams, J Parnevik (Swe), A Oldcorn, S Struver (Ger), P Walton, S McAllister, C Montgomerie, J Rivero (Sp), P-U Johansson (Swe), S Ballesteros (Sp), G J Brand, J Van de Velde (Fr). 71 P Price, O Karlsson (Swe), A Murray, M Mouland, M McNulty (Zim), J Hawkes (SA), T Kite (US), V Singh (Fiji), R Allenby (Aus), M Poxon, M Lanner (Swe), F Lindgren (Swe), J Rystrom (Swe), G Orr, P Way, P Fowler (Aus), M Davis. 72 D Mijovic (Can), A Cejka (Ger), M Zerman (It), J Payne, C Beck (US), C Rocca (It), G Evans, P Broadhurst, H Thul (Ger).Reuse content