Jordan Smith produced a brilliant bogey free 66 to set the clubhouse target and open up a one shot lead on day one of the Trophée Hassan II.
The Englishman has been a picture of consistency on the 2019 Race to Dubai so far, making seven cuts out of seven, and that solid play brought him a first top ten of the season in his last appearance at the Maybank Championship.
Refreshed after almost a month off, he made seven birdies over the par 73 layout at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam to lead by one from 2014 champion Alejandro Cañizares.
The Spaniard claimed his second European Tour title at Golf du Palais Royal five years ago and is enjoying a renaissance after winning the Qualifying School to regain his card last season.
Scot Stephen Gallacher and Frenchman Matthieu Pavon were then at five under, a shot clear of Italy's Edoardo Molinari and two ahead of Englishman Jack Senior.
Cañizares birdied his opening hole and then made five pars before gains on the 16th and 17th saw him jump out into a two shot lead.
He moved to four under with a gain on the first but Smith was stalking and birdies on the 14th, 15th and 17th had him within one.
Pavon had given back an opening birdie on the third but made gains on the eighth, ninth, 13th and 15th to join the lead, and Smith made it a three way tie from ten feet at the third.
He was not there for long, however, as Cañizares saw an 18 foot left to righter drop on the sixth after making a putt of similar length to save par on the fifth.
A 20 footer on the fourth saw Smith join the lead and Pavon holed from 18 feet at the last to set the target and make it a three way tie again.
Cañizares had a golden opportunity on the seventh as he hit the pin after getting a flier lie but could not make the birdie putt, and Smith edged ahead from five feet at the sixth.
A wonderful tee shot into the par three ninth came down the slope to leave Cañizares three feet for a share of the lead but Smith left himself a tap-in on the seventh and he set the morning target.
Gallacher was level par after 15 holes but picked up five shots in his last three with the help of just the second albatross of the season.
The Hero Indian Open champion birdied the seventh and then holed his second with a three iron at the par five next, matching the feat of Terry Pilkadaris at the ISPS Handa Vic Open.
A closing birdie then meant he made an excellent start in search of back to back wins.
Molinari - winner here in 2017 - was bogey free as he made gains on the tenth, 17th, fifth and eighth, with Senior making birdies on the 16th, 17th, first and eighth to bounce back from a dropped shot on the 13th.
Norwegian Kristoffer Reitan was alongside Senior after eight holes, one ahead of fellow later starters Andrew Dodt, Pablo Larrazábal and Justin Walters.
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