Trio lead on historic day in Europe

Jason Scrivener, Francesco Laporta and Thomas Linard lead the Trophee Hassan II on what was a historic day for European golf.

Thursday's opening round at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Morocco marked the first time that the European Tour and the Ladies European Tour played at the same venue concurrently.

While the men negotiated the Red Course in the Trophee Hassan II, the women played the first round of the Lalla Meryem Cup on the Blue Course further up the coast from Casablanca.

The Red course, at least, offered up plenty of challenge, with the four-under-par 68s posted by the leading trio turning out to be good enough for a share of the lead.

Scrivener has had to come through qualifying school twice in the last two years to ply his trade on the European Tour, but his second season is turning out to be far more consistent than his first.

Having missed just one cut in nine events, he now finds himself in a share of the first-round lead after picking up birdies on the second, fourth, 11th, 14th and 15th, with his only bogey of the day coming on the 13th.

"There are some tricky holes early on, so to birdie two of my first four was just the sort of start I was looking for. After that, I hung in there well and putted nicely, so it was a good day all round," said the Australian.

Italian Rookie Laporte started the day with two early bogeys but recovered superbly – thanks in no small part to an eagle on the 12th – to join Scrivener and Linard at the top.

"I played very badly for the first five events, but last week in Madrid on the Challenge Tour was much better," he said. "I finished fourth and took a lot of confidence from the week, so hopefully that has turned my season around," he said.

Linard had his fair share of ups and downs, although he ended the day with far more ups – an eagle, five birdies and three bogeys in his 68.

The trio are one shot clear of as many as five others – local favourite Younes El Hassani, Adrien Saddier, Borja Virto Astudillo, Estanislao Goya and Mike Lorenzo-Vera.

Andrew Johnston finds himself two shots back after an opening 70, as do Romain Wattel and Kevin Phelan, among others.