McGrane takes early lead

2012-03-22 20:12

Agadir - Northern Ireland's Damien McGrane began his campaign for a second European Tour title with a first round seven under par to take a two-shot lead at the Trophee Hassan on Thursday.

The 40-year-old, who’s only European Tour victory came at the 2008 China Open, carded an eagle at his first hole and added eight birdies to offset three bogeys at the Golf du Palais Royal.

Spain's Alejandro Canizares is in second place while Jorge Campillo, Robert-Jan Derksen, Ryder Cup star Edoardo Molinari, Phillip Price, Richie Ramsay, Kenneth Ferrie and Graeme Storm are all together on four under, three off the pace.

"I played beautifully out there today and I am delighted with it," said McGrane.

"I got off to a fast start and managed to keep it going so it was a very good day. The conditions were fairly tough with the warm wind and it was very testing out there, but I managed to putt very well out there and hence the reason I have the good score."

Italian 18-year-old Matteo Manassero, needing a win to qualify for the Masters, carded a three under 69 to be four off the lead.

"I am happy to have made seven birdies on a tough course because I took my chances at the right moments but you can easily make bogeys because I only missed two shots all day and dropped four shots," said Manassero, the runner-up at last week's Andalucia Open.

"Obviously I would love to win here and match the victory with qualifying for the Masters," he added.

"It is definitely a goal but I just have to see what happens. The main thing is I am playing good golf and putting well but you really have to be careful around this golf course."