Spain’s Alejandro Canizares carded a brilliant 62 to claim the lead after the first round of the Hassan Trophy in Morocco yesterday.
Canizares shrugged off the windier conditions faced by the afternoon starters to fire 11 birdies and one bogey at Golf du Palais Royal, although that was only one ahead of England’s Seve Benson.
Benson, who was named after the late Seve Ballesteros, carded a flawless 63 that featured birdies at his last four holes as he looks to claim a first European Tour title in his 104th event.
The brilliant scoring from Canizares and Benson kept American Connor Arendell off the top of the leaderboard, a player who is ranked 1,511th in the world and has no career earnings on the European Tour. Arendell finished eighth at the qualifying school in November to earn his card for this season, but missed the cut in his first four events of 2014.
“It’s a great start,” said the 23-year-old from Florida. “I gave both tours a try, q-school wise, but I just think this is the best thing for me now that the PGA has done away with getting your card (through qualifying).
“I am not a huge fan of that so I wanted to give this a try and it’s worked out so far. I think it’s huge, coming over here getting that experience; week to week the courses vary quite a bit compared to the US so you are working a lot on getting used to the greens and the courses. It’s tough, but I think over time it will make it that much easier when I’m in the US.”
Arendell’s 65 was matched by Sweden’s Magnus A Carlsson, with English pair Tommy Fleetwood and Andy Sullivan and Scot Marc Warren a shot back.
Sheffield’s Danny Willett shot a four-under-par 68, five better than Malton’s Simon Dyson. John Parry, of Harrogate, stumbled to an opening 80.
Doncaster’s Rebecca Hudson shares the lead after an opening round of 67, five under par, in the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco.
Hudson birdied two of the last three holes to set the clubhouse target yesterday morning which was matched by Sophie Walker in blustery conditions in the afternoon.
Hudson – who has won four titles on the Ladies European Tour, including three in 2008 – is playing in her first tournament of the season. “I’m very happy,” she said. “I hit the ball well.
“I haven’t done as much practice as I would like, but I came out and practised here the last few days. I had the ball under control and putted well and that makes a big difference. Hopefully I can keep this going forward.”
France’s Sophie Giquel-Bettan carded a 68 to lie in third place, with England’s Laura Davies and Charley Hull among a five-strong group on three under.