Marcel Siem did his chances of earning a Masters Tournament debut next month the world of good with an excellent first round at the Trophée Hassan II.
The 32 year old German, currently 72nd in the Official World Golf Ranking and needing to climb into the top 50 on Sunday night to earn an invite to Augusta National, carded an eight under par 64 at Golf du Palais Royal.
Taking advantage of easier afternoon conditions - only four players had broken par on a blustery morning - the Open de France winner bogeyed the second but then holed his approach to the next for eagle and reeled off four further birdies to be five under after 15 holes.
That saw him tied for the lead with Spain’s Alvaro Velasco, the former Challenge Tour winner carding five birdies in his first 11 holes.
The morning’s clubhouse pace had been set by English trio David Horsey, Graeme Storm and Simon Wakefield; all of whom defied strong winds to sign for four under par 68s.
“It was one of those days when you go out there on a realty tough golf course and the wind is blowing 20-30 miles per hour and you really don't expect to finish on four under,” said Wakefield, who is still chasing a maiden European Tour victory after almost 300 events.
“I am shocked to be tied in the lead but I played well.”
Storm, like Siem a former Open de France winner, has not had a top-three finish since 2009.
“Hopefully I can start climbing the order of merit now and have a good year because I feel like all the changes I have made have given me a new lease of life,” he said.
Horsey won here in 2011 and shot six birdies and two bogeys in Agadir.
The two-time European Tour winner was only one under through 11 holes but finished strongly; striking his approach to four feet at the third, holing a 60 foot birdie putt at the fifth and chipping in from the bunker at the front of the seventh green.
“It was very good,” he said. “I am very happy with the start. I had my fair share of good luck today but you need that in this game and you just have to take advantage of it when it comes your way.
“I managed to play well today and had the ball under control for the majority of the round.
“Obviously I had the win here two years ago and I do feed off a lot of those good feelings from that when I come back here. It is a great golf course that is different to what we usually play with a lot of run-offs and raised greens but you can make a score if you play well as I showed today.”