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Flying start sees McGrane streak into Agadir lead

MEATH man Damien McGrane got off to a flying start on his opening hole at the Royal Palace golf course in Agadir, Morocco, with an eagle to help him soar into the lead after the first round of the King Hassan II Trophy.

The Kells native led his closest challenger, Alejandro Canizares of Spain, by two shots after a superb first-round 65, which featured that eagle three at the 10th and eight birdies, four of them in his last five holes.

McGrane (40) had to fight tooth and nail to hold his card last year, but this year he has hinted at a return to the form which propelled him into the European Tour’s elite top 60 in five of the past six seasons.

His top-20 finish at last week’s Open de Andalucia edged his earnings from 10 seasons on Tour to just over the €4m mark.

McGrane’s razor-sharp performance inside the 12-foot high walls of the Moroccan royal family’s Ocean Palace yesterday suggests he may not be far away from adding a second Tour success to his solitary victory, which came at the 2008 Volvo China Open.

Englishman Robert Rock had a 25th birthday he would rather forget after his hopes of winning a place at the upcoming US Masters were wrecked by the calamitous 11 he took at the par-four fourth hole.

High winds delayed the start of the second round at the Hassan Trophy in Morocco today, with no play in the morning.