Peter Lawrie fired two eagles in a stunning eight under par 64 at the Golf Du Palais Royal to cruise into a three shot lead after the opening round of the Trophee Hassan II.
But Shane Lowry’s mental struggles continued as he found himself in second last place after a 10 over 81 on the Golf De L’Ocean track - his worst score since he turned professional 23 months ago.
With the field split between the two courses for the first two rounds, Lawrie leads from defending champion Rhys Davies of Wales, England’s John Bickerton and India’s Shiv Kapur.
Bidding for his second European Tour win following his Spanish Open success in 2008, Lawrie said: “I got off to a great start with an eagle at the 10th hole. After that I played lovely, gave myself lots of chances and made one stupid bogey.
“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 bit.”
Starting at the 10th, Lawrie made an eagle three and added birdies at the 16th, 17th and first holes before dropping his only shot of the day at the par-four third.
But he made amends two holes later with another eagle three before picking up further shots at the seventh and eighth for matching nines of 32 and his lowest round to par since he fired an eight under 63 in the third round of the Omega European Masters last September.
Darren Clarke was frustrated to drop his only shot of the day on his 17th hole at Golf De L’Ocean, forcing him to settle for a two under 69 to share 17th place.
Damien McGrane had a one under 70 and Paul McGinley and Michael Hoey a pair of 71s at the same track as Shane Lowry crashed to a nightmare, 10-over 81 less than a week after missing the cut with a second round 80 in Malaga last week.
It was the highest round of the Clara man’s fledgling career and just his fifth competitive round since returning to the tour after three months on the sidelines with a fractured wrist.
While he insists that he is 100 percent physically fit, the former Irish Open champion is clearly struggling mentally, as he revealed on Twitter on the eve of the event.
He wrote: “Great days work today! Happy enough with my game just need to trust it tomorrow. #itsallinthehead.”
Showing he hasn’t lost his sense of humour after a round featuring two birdies, seven bogeys, one double and one triple bogey, he told his Twitter followers: “Well safe to say the only good thing I got today was a tan…”
First-round collated scores (Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 72 & 71):
Golf du Palais Royal
64 Peter Lawrie
67 Shiv Kapur (Ind), Rhys Davies
68 Mark Tullo (Chi), Joost Luiten (Ned), Jaco Van Zyl (Rsa)
69 Michael Campbell (Nzl), Oskar Henningsson (Swe)
70 Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind), Chris Wood, Richie Ramsay, Robert Dinwiddie, Kenneth Ferrie, Florian Fritsch (Ger), Robert Rock, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Michael Jonzon (Swe), Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa)
71 Richard Bland, Martin Wiegele (Aut), Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra), Daniel Gaunt (Aus), Steven O’Hara, Julio Zapata (Arg), Graeme Storm
72 Thomas Bjorn (Den), Maarten Lafeber (Ned), Danny Willett, Stuart Manley, Tano Goya (Arg), Barry Lane
73 Christian Cevaer (Fra), Carlos Del Moral (Spa), Jeppe Huldahl (Den), Christopher ryan Baker (USA), Matthew Zions (Aus), Richard McEvoy, Marcel Siem (Ger), Anthony Kang (USA), Richard Finch, Alexandre Kaleka (Fra)
74 Gary Boyd, Christian Nilsson (Swe), Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Rafael Echenique (Arg), Mark Brown (Nzl)
75 Joakim Haeggman (Swe), David Lynn, Thomas Levet (Fra), Fredrik Andersson Hed (Swe), Simon Khan, Ross Bain
76 Paul Waring, David Howell, Drew Weaver (USA), Scott Jamieson, Jose Manuel Lara (Spa)
77 Matt Haines
78 Younes El Hassani (Mor)
80 Chris McCartin (USA)
Golf de l’Ocean
66 John Bickerton
67 David Horsey, George Coetzee (Rsa), Oscar Floren (Swe), Lloyd Saltman
68 Joel Sjoholm (Swe), Peter Hedblom (Swe), Raphael Jacquelin (Fra)
69 Peter Whiteford, Liam Bond, Darren Clarke, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa), James Morrison, David Dixon, Tim Sluiter (Ned), Keith Horne (Rsa), Gregory Bourdy (Fra)
70 Robert Jan Derksen (Ned), Damien McGrane, Alvaro Velasco (Spa), Shaun Norris (Rsa), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Simon Wakefield, Jason Knutzon (USA), Stephen Dodd, Pablo Martin (Spa)
71 Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Matthew Nixon, George Murray, Oliver Wilson, Robert Coles, Simon Dyson, Romain Wattel (Fra), Tetsuji Hiratsuka (Jpn), Paul McGinley, Michael Hoey
72 Hennie Otto (Rsa), John Parry, Niclas Fasth (Swe), Alejandro Canizares (Spa), Ignacio Garrido (Spa)
73 Lee Slattery, Steve Webster, Thomas Norret (Den), Andreas Harto (Den), Mark Foster
74 Mikko Ilonen (Fin), Phillip Price, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Bradley Dredge
75 Faycal Serghini (Mor), Santiago Luna (Spa), Jean-Francois Lucquin (Fra)
76 Azuma Yano (Jpn), Nick Dougherty
77 Steve Lewton
78 Phillip Mollica (USA), Seve Benson
81 Shane Lowry
83 Jhared Hack (USA)