Peter Lawrie fired a superb round of 64 to establish a three shot lead after the opening round of the Trophée Hassan II.
The Irishman’s eight under par effort on the Golf Du Palais Royal - the field are split across that and the Golf De L’Océan course in Agadir for the first two rounds – left him with a healthy lead over England’s John Bickerton, defending champion Rhys Davies and India’s Shiv Kapur.
“I got off to a great start with an eagle at the tenth hole – my first - I holed out from about 25 feet,” said Lawrie, whose only previous European Tour win came in Spain three years ago.
“After that I played lovely, gave myself lots of chances and made one stupid bogey where I missed the green left on the third and didn’t get up and down.
“I then missed a very short birdie putt on the next, but apart from that it was lovely.”
Bickerton was the only player in the top four to tackle the De L’Océan layout, firing a bogey-free 65 to sit alongside Welshman Davies and Kapur.
In stifling heat, Bickerton dropped a shot at the tenth – his first - but fought back with six birdies.
“It was a very tough day in that respect, especially when you look at the length of the rounds we were playing,” said the 41 year old, referring to the high temperatures. “I am a player who will always try and help my amateur partners too so there was a lot of concentration used up out there today because we were out there for almost six hours.
“I played great all the way round until I got to my 17th hole which was the eighth hole of Golf de L’Océan. I felt really tired on the tee and pulled my drive into the water. I got up there, took my drop and had 172 yards to the pin and I holed my six iron!
“It was a bit silly but you are not going to complain too much about that one. I was looking at at least a five and walked off with a three.”
Leader Lawrie was in agreement that the heat had played a factor, but the 37 year old believes it may have had a positive effect on his game.
“I think this heat actually worked in my favour as I was so busy thinking about hydrating myself it took my mind off the game,” added Lawrie, whose namesake Paul won last week’s Open de Andalucía de Golf by Turkish Airlines.
“I just hit it and walked after it, hit it and walked after it, and just kept thinking about drinking water.
“I think we got very lucky with the draw to be honest. The wind calmed down on the back nine and the front nine, the windier nine, was when the wind was dying down a lot. We definitely today got the best of the draw.”
“I’ve been playing okay this season, but just had a very slow start. I played the first four and the Middle East and had no great results there, then played Sicily and did okay, and took last week off. So coming out here I’m not in any real great form but it’s nice to start off with a 64, that’s for sure.”
Davies enjoyed a dream debut season on The European Tour after his maiden victory 12 months ago, but has not finished in the top 20 so far on The 2011 Race to Dubai.
“I played well today,” he said. “I hit the ball a lot better than I have been lately and I was able to put the ball in the right position on the greens which is important out there, and I was able to roll some putts in at key moments.”
Kapur had two bogeys in his first five holes, but an eagle at the 15th kick-started his round.
“I think we were lucky to have the better conditions this afternoon so it was easier to score,” he said. “I put the ball in play a lot and putted well.”
The 2005 US Open Champion, Michael Campbell, showed signs of a return to form after a difficult couple of years with a three under par 69, one ahead of Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke.
Clarke’s fellow Ryder Cup Vice Captain Paul McGinley carded a level par 71 on the L’Océan layout.