Agadir, Morocco – Marcel Siem fired an 8-under 64 on Thursday to grab a 3-stroke lead with the opening round of the Trophee Hassan II suspended due to darkness.
Siem claimed his second tour title last year at the Open de France.
Alvaro Velasco is alone in second at minus-5.
David Horsey, Graeme Storm and Simon Wakefield posted matching 4-under 68s at Golf du Palais Royal and are tied for third. Those three were tied for the lead after the morning wave, when the wind was much stronger.
"It was one of those days when you go out there on a really tough golf course and the wind is blowing 20-30 miles per hour and you really don't expect to finish on 4-under," Wakefield admitted.
Mikko Ilonen, who shared third place here in 2010, carded a 3-under 68 and was joined in sixth place by Gary Lockerbie and Craig Lee.
Siem stumbled to a bogey at the second. He erased that mistake, and more, as he eagled the par-5 third to jump to minus-1.
The German followed with back-to-back birdies at four and five. He ran off four consecutive pars from the sixth.
Around the turn, Siem grabbed a share of the lead with a birdie on the par-5 10th. He made it two in a row with another birdie at No. 11.
Siem then ran off five straight pars from the 12th before posting his second eagle of the day at the par-5 17th. He closed with a birdie at the last to finish three clear of the field.
The 32-year-old has a chance to qualify for The Masters with a win this week.
"Sometimes you need a bit of luck in this game and thankfully today was one of those days where it went my way. I didn't know I still had a chance for the Masters, but now we know there are four or five of us in the field here who still might be able to get to the Masters if we win here," Siem stated. "It is a nice incentive, but I came here first and foremost to play this tournament and play this golf course. The Masters would be pretty special, but I just have to concentrate on what I am doing in this tournament."
Velasco played the back nine first and started with three consecutive birdies from the 10th. After a pair of pars, he moved to 4-under with a birdie on the par-5 15th.
The Spaniard moved within three of the lead with a birdie on the first. Velasco ended there as he closed with eight consecutive pars.
NOTES: The round was suspended due to darkness with just three players left on the course ... Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Richie Ramsay, Stephen Gallacher and Scott Jamieson also have a chance to earn a Masters invite by getting inside the top 50 in the world. They are currently ranked between 65th and 74th in the world ... One player definitely going to the Masters that is playing this week is 1999 Masters champ Jose Maria Olazabal, who struggled to a 7-over 79.