French duo Jade Schaeffer and Julie Maisongrosse fired matching rounds of four-under 67 to grab the first round lead at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco.
The pair ended the day a stroke ahead of three other players after a hot and breezy day at Golf de l’Ocean in Agadir.
England’s Sophie Walker, Swede Linda Wessberg and Rebecca Codd of Ireland shared third place on three-under, while there was a decidedly French feel to the leader board with five of the top 11 players coming from France.
Frenchwomen Caroline Afonso, Virginie Lagoutte-Clement and Sophie Giquel-Bettan were a stroke further back in a tie for sixth place with Marjet Van Der Graaff of the Netherlands and Swedes Carin Koch and Erika Holmen, all on two under par.
Maisongrosse was the early clubhouse leader, having set out in a hot easterly breeze. The French 24-year-old made a strong star with birdies on the first, second, fourth and seventh holes to reach the turn in four under 32 and had another birdie on the par five 11th.
She dropped a shot at the long par-three 12th and found the water on 17, but steadied the card with a birdie on the par-four 18th.
The third year LET player won the Dinard Ladies Open on the LET Access Series last season and has continued her rich vein of form on that tour with a fourth place finish at last week’s Terre Blanche Ladies Open.
Maisongrosse felt that the wind had an effect on scoring. “The back nine are very hard with the wind behind and the second shot too and the putting. With the wind it’s very difficult and a lot of fairways are very sloped. On the front nine you don’t feel the wind and the back nine you feel it. The par fours are very long.”
Meanwhile Schaeffer played later in the day after the wind had changed direction and the temperature had risen to 34 degrees Celsius.
The two-time Ladies European Tour winner, who most recently captured the 2011 Prague Golf Masters, felt that she had the advantage. “The wind changed in the middle of my round. It was okay because it’s not a strong wind and sometimes the drives were difficult, but the rest was okay because I don’t have too many long shots, just on the par threes,” she said.
The 25-year-old from Paris said it could have been even better had she taken her chances on the last two holes: “I played very well today and very good up and downs. My putting is incredible and it’s unbelievable to have good putting because I have had so many problems with my putting for a long time and I try to have a good feeling.”
The 2011 event champion Zuzana Kamasova opened with a five-over 76 to sit nine shots off the pace, while the only Moroccan player in the field, Maha Haddioui from Agadir, was two shots back. She signed for a 78 having dropped seven shots in her last five holes.
Marion Ricordeau of France was another player who fell back. She was tied for the lead on four under after 15 holes but dropped four shots over the last three on account of a migraine.
The second round commences at 8am on Friday and stronger winds are expected. Schaeffer will tee off at the 10th at 8.50am, while Maisongrosse will start from the same tee almost four hours later at 12.40pm.