RABAT: Zane Scotland wasted no time in knocking the rust off the game, firing a stunning six-under 67 in Tuesday’s opening round of the Royal Golf Es Salam Open, the first event on the 2013 Mena Golf Tour schedule.
Playing his first competitive round since the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February, the Englishman lit up his bogey-free round with four birdies on his last four holes in cold and blustery conditions to take a healthy five-shot lead.
“I never thought I would finish this way, but I played really solid all day long and made six birdies without dropping a shot,” said Scotland, who practiced in snow back home before coming to Rabat.
“That four birdies on the last four holes was certainly the highlight of my round. Putts just started dropping in, which was great. “You never know what tomorrow holds, but I feel like I’m in good position,” said the Englishman.
“You stand a good chance of picking up a shot if you hit the middle of the greens in regulation since they are small in comparison to courses in Europe,” said Scotland who finished runner-up to Wales’ Stephen Dodd in 2012 Mena Golf Tour Order of Merit standings.
A three-time winner on the European Tour Dodd settled for one-under 72 along with Greg Snow of Kenya, Morocco’s Younes El Hassani and England’s Dale Marmion for a share in second place going into the second round.
“I will take this score any day considering the adverse conditions out there,” said the Welshman, who mixed two birdies, one in each half, with a bogey on the par-5, eighth.
Playing in his first ever event on the Mena Golf Tour, Snow was equally delighted with his round. “This is a great championship course, a layout which requires precision and nerve, and punishes mistakes.
“Strong swirling winds further made this difficult and under this circumstances any one shooting even a par would constitute a good score. I am delighted with a 72 and hopes I can build on this score over next two days, said Snow.
Hassani, who led the local challenge on Day One, was even surprised by weather conditions at this time of year. “Usually, we have this kind of weather in January or February, but never in March. So, even we are taken aback a bit,” said Hassani, who made the turn at two over before picking up birdies on 12th and 16th.
Morocco’s Ahmed Marjan finished level-par 73 to lead the amateur division, one shot ahead of compatriot Mustafa El Maouass four of Jean Michel Hall of England.
Marjan, the winner of the Mena Golf Tour’s Order of Merit title in 2011, had his chances to finish under par, but missed a couple of short birdie putts. “I drove the ball well and my irons were quite effective.”