Marcel Siem (Getty Images)
Marcel Siem did his chances of earning a Masters Tournament debut next month the world of good with an eight under par 64 in the first round at the Trophée Hassan II.
An eagle-birdie finish gave the 32 year old German a three shot lead at the Agadir resort as he seeks to add to his two European Tour wins, the more recent of which came last July in France.
A strong result would also give the World Number 72 a chance of breaking into the top 50 ahead of the qualification cut-off for Augusta National on Sunday night.
A bogey at the second was an inauspicious start to his round but he responded with an eagle and two birdies and picked up further shots at the tenth and 11th before chipping in at the last two holes.
"Sometimes you need a bit of luck in this game and thankfully today was one of those days where it went my way,” he said.
"I didn't know I still had a chance for the Masters but now we know there are four or five of us in the field here who still might be able to get to the Masters if we win here.
"It is a nice incentive but I came here first and foremost to play this tournament and play this golf course. The Masters would be pretty special but I just have to concentrate on what I am doing in this tournament."
Spaniard Alvaro Velasco was Siem's closest challenger, although he failed to make the most of a strong start.
Teeing off at the tenth, Velasco birdied his first three holes but could only pick up two more shots for a five under 67.
Both Siem and Velasco took advantage of more sedate afternoon conditions, after blustery winds had left only four players able to break par in the morning session.
England's David Horsey, the 2011 champion, was one of those, alongside compatriots Graeme Storm and Simon Wakefield.
“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.”
Another Englishman, Gary Lockerbie, and Scot Craig Lee were three under, with France's Gregory Havret and Dutchman Joost Luiten a further shot behind.
The other players playing for Augusta National invites struggled on a windswept day, with Spain's Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Scotland's Richie Ramsay two over par after rounds of 74. Ramsay's compatriots Stephen Gallacher and Scott Jamieson were even further off the pace at three over and five over respectively.