The European Challenge Tour’s Riu Tikida Hotels Moroccan Classic got off to a low scoring start, with the French duo of Jean-Nicolas Billot and Olivier David, as well as Switzerland’s André Bossert, Peter Kaensche of Norway and Sweden’s Fredrik Widmark, leading the 55 players who broke the Golf du Soleil’s par 71 mark with scores of five under 66.
Billot took the early clubhouse lead with a well constructed round under the Moroccan sunshine.
The 26 year old, who is coached by renowned French teacher Benoit Ducolombier, the same man entrusted by The European Tour’s French pair of Jean-Francois Remesy and Gregory Havret, put together an eagle, four birdies and a single bogey to set the early pace that could not be bettered by the rest of the field.
Bossert was the next man in on 66, the 41 year old finding some great form as he begins his preparations for The Open Championship at St Andrews, having come through the The Open’s International Qualifying process in South Africa at the turn of the year.
The Swiss was soon joined by David, who, having recently recorded his maiden professional victory at the FIRSTPLUS Wales Challenge, is in sparkling form as the Challenge Tour season moves into full swing.
Widmark then made it a four way tie at the top of the leaderboard, having completed the most incredible of 18 holes. Level par after eight holes, Widmark proceeded to embark on the most remarkable of runs that started with a birdie at the ninth. He picked up another shot on the tenth, before recording two successive bogeys that were followed by a birdie and an eagle three.
Widmark then gave another shot back at the 15th before yet another birdie was followed by an eagle two at the 17th. The Swede then restored some sort of normality to the round with a par four at the 18th to post the most eventful of the five leading 66s.
Kaensche, playing in the last group of the day, finished birdie-birdie to join the leaders on five under, making a fine two with an excellent tee shot over the intimidating water hazard at the Golf du Soleil’s testing par three 18th to move to five under.
For Bossert, every shot he takes is now being seen as a warm up to the Open Championship. The former European Tour champion visited the Old Course at St Andrews just three weeks ago, and cannot wait to play in the biggest strokeplay event of them all in July.
“Everything that I do now will be geared towards playing in The Open and I am really looking forward to it,” said Bossert.
“I love links golf and I actually went to St Andrews a few weeks ago to play the course and have a look around and book my hotel for the week of The Open. It was great to get back there – I haven’t played there for about 12 years and it was as it always is, absolutely beautiful.
“I had a great round with my wife, but I think I will have to pack a 62 degree sand wedge in my bag because the bunkers are a lot deeper than they were 12 years ago – some of them are really deep now and will be quite scary come July, but I am really looking forward to playing in The Open.”
David, meanwhile, has an altogether different focus in his life having recent become a father for the first time. The Frenchman has changed his view on life, and as a result has become far more relaxed in his attitude to golf – something he feels has helped his game.
“Everything has changed in my life since my son was born,” said David. “The most important thing for me now is my family and I think that I am taking things easier on the golf course because of that. Mind you, the one good thing about coming out on tour is that I can get some sleep – I now prefer coming to work a lot more than I used to!”