Marc Warren shook off the winter rust to shoot his lowest round of the season as he finished among the frontrunners after the opening round of the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco.
The 32-year-old has made a slow start to the 2014 campaign, missing the cut in three of his five events, but it all came good on the Golf du Palais Royal course in Agadir yesterday.
Warren carded a six-under-par 66 that left him tied for fifth, four shots behind leader, Alejandro Canizares, who soared to the front with a sparkling 62. Starting from the 10th, Warren covered the back nine in 32. He then picked up further shots at the third, fifth and seventh to move into the early lead on seven under before bogeying the eighth where his tee shot found an awkward lie in the back of a greenside bunker. "It's nice to see the name back up there again," Warren said. "It's been a slow start to the year. I did take a bit of time off over winter and was rusty.
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"You just keep telling yourself that is all it is and you will be rewarded if you stay patient. I felt a couple of weeks ago my swing was starting to feel and look how I wanted it to again and it held up today."
Peter Whiteford, Warren's fellow Scot, covered his back-nine in five-under-par en route to a 67, making a purposeful start to his bid to end a run of five successive missed cuts.
On the PGA Tour, Russell Knox bounced back from his Honda Classic play-off disappointment to be in contention on day one of the Valspar Championship in Tampa Bay, Florida. The Inverness-born player posted a one-under-par 70 in unusually cold but bright conditions at the $5.8m event, putting him just two shots behind the American Matt Every, who enjoyed the early clubhouse lead after a 68.
The Jacksonville-based Knox has travelled to Tampa for only the second time in his career, having missed the cut last year with a pair of 75s.
"It's not the sort of weather you expect in this part of the country and a little different playing with a few more layers of clothing on than I've been used to the last month," Knox said. "As for my game, I was all over the place today but managed to scramble my way to a 70."