Spain’s Alejandro Canizares carded a 62 to carve out a one-shot lead over England’s Seve Benson on a windswept opening day at the Trophee Hassan II on Thursday. Canizares hit 11 birdies against just a single bogey to take an early edge over Benson, the golfer named after Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros who is seeking a first European title in his 104th tournament.
“It was one of those days for me, my swing felt great, I started putting well and the putts went in,” Canizares said after his 10-under score.
The 31-year-old, with one European Tour title to his name thanks to the 2006 Russian Open, credited hard work for Thursday’s round Thursday.
“I was lucky that after a couple of sessions with my coach and a putting session with Phil Kenyon this week, it’s started getting a lot easier so I am very happy to perform well this week,” he said. “I think I played one of the best rounds I’ve played. I missed a couple of drives and from the fairway I missed one shot that cost me a bogey, but that was about it I think.”
Benson, 27, carded a round of 63 that featured birdies at his last four holes, while Sweden’s Magnus Carlsson and Connor Arendell of the US are a shot further back.
Arendell finished eighth at Qualifying School in November last year to earn his card for this season, but missed the cut in his first four events of this year.
“It’s a great start,” the 23-year-old from Florida said. “I gave both tours a try, Q-School wise, but I just think this is the best thing for me now that the PGA has done away with getting your card [through qualifying].”
“I think it’s huge, coming over here getting that experience, the traveling; week to week the courses vary quite a bit compared to the US so you are working a lot on getting used to the greens and the courses. It’s tough, but I think over time it will make it that much easier when I’m in the US.”