David Horsey (Getty Images)
David Horsey made a perfect start to his bid to regain the Trophée Hassan II as he carded an opening 68 at a blustery Golf du Palais Royal.
The Englishman, a winner here in 2011, shot six birdies and two bogeys in Agadir; where the strong winds saw only three players break par on the opening morning.
Horsey birdied two of three par fives on the back nine but ran up a six at the other as he turned in 35, before birdieing the first and dropping his second shot of the day at the next.
The two-time European Tour winner finished strongly, however, 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.”
At four under he led alongside compatriots Graeme Storm and Simon Wakefield - both of whom finished strongly.
Former Open de France winner Storm was two under with three to play but birdied the 16th and eagled the long 17th before a bogey at the last.
Wakefield - without a victory in almost 300 European Tour events - turned one under but came home in 33 courtesy of birdies at the first, third and seventh.
Next best in the clubhouse were Spanish trio Pablo Larrazabal, Jorge Campillo and Jose Manuel Lara, all of whom signed for level par 72s; as did German Moritz Lampert.
As the afternoon starters gave chase, France’s former US Open runner-up Gregory Havret had four birdies in five holes from the 13th to join the leading group.