Rabat - England's Nick Dougherty held a one-shot lead after the first round of the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco on Thursday.
The 27-year-old Liverpudlian shot a 66 on the par 73 Red course, helped by an eagle and five birdies.
He leads Ireland's Peter Lawrie, Scot Stephen Gallacher, Italian Francesco Molinari, India's S S P Chowrasia, Argentina's Ricardo Gonzalez and Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti.
All of that group bar Chowrasia were playing on the much shorter par 72 Blue course.
Dubliner Paul McGinley, playing his first tournament since a sixth knee operation in November, managed only a three over 76 on the Red.
"I'm lacking that competitive edge," said the man who holed Europe's winning put at The Ryder Cup in 2002.
"The knee is absolutely fine. I didn't feel it at all, and although it's a bit swollen now, it's not giving me any pain. My round got away from me at the eighth and ninth when I missed a two foot putt and then hit one in the water.
"I played much better than my score suggests but my putting was terrible."
Dougherty, a three-time European Tour winner, was pleased to be back in the limelight after dropping from a high of 46th in the world just over two years ago to 120th in the official rankings.
"I've been struggling so much I'm just trying to build some confidence and hit as many good shots as I can," he said.
"Thomas Bjorn gave me quite a bit of help yesterday (Wednesday) on the range, which meant the world to me obviously, but it's a work in progress.
"Anything under par I would have been happy with, so I was delighted with that. I think seven under is a really, really good score round there.
"I putted fabulously and I'm delighted with my short game in general, but it's the long game that's concerning me. I've been battling with that for a long time now."
The 104-strong field switch courses for the second round as the pro-am format continues before the top 65 professionals go through to the closing 36 holes on the Red.
Collated first round scores from the EPGA Trophee Hassan II at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam (GBR & IRL unless stated)
Played over two courses: Blue - par 72, Red - par 73
66 - Francesco Molinari (ITA), Ricardo Gonzalez (ARG), Stephen Gallacher, Fabrizio Zanotti (PAR), Peter Lawrie
67 - Thomas Aiken (RSA), Shiv Kapur (IND), Alejandro Canizares (ESP), David Horsey, Ignacio Garrido (ESP), Sam Little
68 - Niclas Fasth (SWE), Rafael Echenique (ARG), Jean-Francois Lucquin (FRA)
69 - Richard Bland, Anthony Wall, David Lynn, Pablo Martin (ESP), Darren Clarke, Mark Brown (NZL), Raphael Jacquelin (FRA)
70 - Anthony Kang (USA), Azuma Yano (JPN), David Howell, Gregory Havret (FRA)
73 - Andrew Tampion (AUS)
79 - Macon Moye (USA)
66 - Nick Dougherty
67 - Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia (IND)
68 - Rhys Davies
69 - Phillip Price, Julien Clement (SUI), Thomas Levet (FRA)
70 - Stephen Dodd, Joost Luiten (NED), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA)
71 - Jhared Hack (USA), David Drysdale, Christian Nilsson (SWE), Robert Rock, Mikko Ilonen (FIN), Carlos Rodiles (ESP)
72 - Steve Webster, Peter Whiteford, Gareth Maybin, Robert Coles, Thomas Bjorn (DEN), Julien Quesne (FRA), Simon Khan
73 - Peter Baker, Danny Willett, Seve Benson
74 - John Parry, Gary Orr, Marcel Siem (GER), Paul Broadhurst, Marco Ruiz (PAR), Shane Lowry, Alastair Forsyth, Tano Goya (ARG), Rafael Cabrera Bello (ESP), Barry Lane
75 - Wen-chong Liang (CHN)
76 - Paul McGinley