Colm Moriarty’s mental strength will be tested to the limit on Friday after a crushing quintuple bogey 10 at the last smashed his hopes of making a strong start to his Challenge Tour season in the Moroccan Classic.

The Athlone man, 29, showed his fighting qualities when he battled back from four-over par after eight holes at El Jadida Royal Golf and Spa to just one-over with one to play.

Colm MoriartyA birdie at the 543-yard 18th would left him just four shots behind first round leader Julien Clément of Switzerland.

But he racked up a 10 instead for a 78 that left him four shots outside the projected cut mark on six-over par.

Moriarty’s horror finish contrasted with a dream start for Clément, who drove into a fairway trap at the 10th but holed out for an eagle two and then birdied the next after his approach hit the pin and finished just eight feet away.

The 27 year old dropped a shot on the 16th but birdied the 18th and fourth holes to move to a shot clear of a group of six players on four-under.

“I was a bit lucky with the eagle but it was a great way to start,” he said. “I pulled my drive into the trap and I had an awful lie so I just took my wedge and closed my eyes. The shot went low and was a metre short of the green but then I saw it go in.”

France’s Julien Quesne, Swedish pair Johan Sköld and Joel Sjöholm, Welshman Kyron Sullivan and English duo Robert Coles and Jamie Moul are tied for second.

But it was a less than spectacular day for the Irish brigade with Banbridge man Richard Kilpatrick the best of the bunch.

The former East of Ireland champion is tied for 41st after a one-over par 73 with Moriarty’s former Walker Cup partner Noel Fox a shot further back after an adventurous 74.

Rookie Fox has missed the cut in his first three starts this season and the 35 year old from Portmarnock will have been almost as disappointed as Moriarty after a roller-coaster effort.

The long-hitting Portmarnock man opened with three consecutive bogeys but birdied the par-three seventh and eagled the par-five 11th to get back to level par.

He then birdied the par-three 13th to dip under par but followed that with an infuriating, triple bogey seven at the 14th before finishing bogey-birdie.

Michael McGeady and Gareth Shaw posted three-over par 75s that left them one shot outside the projected cut mark  in joint 75th place.