Neil Fenwick returned from paternity leave to lead the Scottish challenge after the opening round of the second MENA Tour event in quick succession in Morocco.
The Edinburgh man cardeda level-par 72 to sit joint fifth in the inaugural El Jadida Championship by HLO at Royal Golf El Jadida in the picturesque port city on the country’s Atlantic coast.
Fenwick’s game looked a bit rusty as he dropped three shots in the first five holes before getting back to level-par after 12 then mixing two birdies with two bogeys over the closing stretch.
“I played great today,” said Fenwick, a new dad to son Louie. “This course is very tight and tricky. It was also windy this afternoon, so I’m delighted with my start.”
On becoming a parent for the fist time, the former Dunfermline Athletic defender added: “I think the little man will give me the boost I need this year.”
On a day when Austrian Florian Praegant set the pace with a 68, Turnhouse-attached Duncan Stewart and Paul Doherty, the two other Scots in the field, signed for 73 and 74 respectively.
Lukas Michel (St Andrews) and Gemma Batty (Stirling) are the halfway leaders in the Scottish Students’ Championships at Moray.
After rounds of 69 and 68 at the Lossiemouth venue, Michel is a shot ahead of Glasgow’s Greg Telfer (71-67).
Former Scottish Boys’ champion Craig Howie (69-70) is a shot futher back along with first-round leader Christopher Low (Abertay).
Batty’s opening efforts of 77 and 67 have earned her a two-shot cushion over St Andrews’ Alexa Hammer (75-71) with Stirling’s Chloe Goadby (79-69) among three players two shots further back in joint-third.
Contrary to public belief, the opening major of the season takes place this week - the women’s ANA Inspiration getting underway at Rancho Mirage in California on Thursday.
An even stronger favoutite heading into it is Lydia Ko after the world No 1 warmed up with an impressive four-shot victory in the Kia Classic, also held in the Golden State.
It was the Kiwi’s 11th LPGA Tour triumph, a remarkable haul for someone who doesn’t turn 19 until late next month.
Only one of those victories was in a major - the Evian Championship in France last year - but Ko’s class will surely start to come to fore on a frequent basis in those events in the near future.
Ko’s fourth top 10 of the season takes her total to 43 while year earnings of
$614,122 mean her career prize haul is a staggering $5,503,957.
Catriona Matthew finished joint-43rd in the Kia Classic, which would have been a disappointment for the Scottish No 1 after she’d opened with a 69 in Carlsbad to sit just two shots off the lead.