Jordan Smith set the pace on day one of the Red Sea Egyptian Challenge Presented by Hassan Allam Properties with an opening round of 63 at Sokhna Golf Club on the European Challenge Tour.
The Englishman was too hot to handle in the Egyptian sun, picking up nine birdies and one eagle in a blistering first round which saw him end the day on nine under par – just one shot shy of the course record.
The 23 year old, who won the 2015 Euro Pro Golf Tour to gain his playing rights for the 2016 Road to Oman, took full advantage of ideal conditions in Ain Sokhna and was delighted with his day’s work.
“I could tell it was going well out there today,” he said. “I didn’t really hit any bad shots out there. I hit a lot of shots close, holed a lot of putts and hit it really good tee to green.
“I missed a few greens on the par threes which led to two bogeys but apart from that I am over the moon.
“The pins out there were tough, they were tucked away in a lot of slopes, but it was fair apart from that with the large fairways.
“I got off to a nice steady start in Kenya and I am just ready to kick on and get the year going now.
“I got a lot of confidence from winning last year and I will use that to try and aim for a spot in the top 15 and a first win.”
Smith, who represented Great Britain and Ireland at the 2013 Walker Cup, finished the day two shots ahead of Frenchman Joël Stalter.
The 23 year old, who broke the course record at the Barclays Kenya Open in the first event of the Challenge Tour season, shot a bogey-free 65 to claim second place.
“I gave myself a lot of chances and it felt like an easy round,” he said. “I kept hitting the fairways and was in a position where I could just hit wedges in. I didn’t make that many putts but I think I only really missed one shot the whole round.
“I thought my strategy was good today as I did not make any mistakes. I hit some good lines off the tee and I will just keep on doing what went well today.”
Former Challenge Tour Rankings winner Espen Kofstad carded a six under par 67 to tie for third place alongside Englishman Matt Wallace and South African Jacques Blaauw.
Reigning Amateur Champion Romain Langasque, fresh from his debut at Augusta National in the Masters Tournament, made a good start to life in the paid ranks by finishing the day five under par.