8th February 2012 | Alps Tour Golf
Gros and O'Neal co-leaders in Morocco
A rookie and a veteran are leading in Morocco after first round of the Open Palmeraie PGP. France’s 22 year old Sébastien Gros and American 38 year old Tim O’Neal (picture) both shot 66 six under par to take a one stroke advantage. On their toes, a group of five players, France’s Matthieu Bey and Scots Gavin Dear and Ross Kellet and Italy’s Niccolo Quitarelli and Nicolo Ravano.
The launch of the season was a success. The weather was perfect to play golf today, the sun did not miss its rendez-vous with players. Most of them coming from frozen Europe really appreciated to be on the first tee today.
On one hand, many good players are in Marrakesh this week as there is no tournament on Challenge Tour. Italian Matteo Delpodio, 2010 Alps Tour winner, and other former members such as Matthew Cryer, Gavin Dear or Christophe Brazillier took this opportunity to play. On the other hand, rookie Sébatien Gros who just turned pro did pretty as he competed for first time for money. His sister Lorellen was under the bag and no doubt that the scratch player young lady was a precious help to her talented brother. Gros said “The course is quite fair and each good shot is awarded. There is no rough no even if you miss the fairway it is not a big deal. But I admitted I putted well, that helps!”
American co-leader Tim O’Neal, despite his youthful face, is one of the most experienced player of the field. Savannah native used to play many full seasons since 1999 on the Nationwide Tour, the second level of the PGA Tour. He got an invitation to play in Morocco thanks to the Hassan II Golf Trophy Association. The Atlas Pro Tour, the Moroccan circuit has been supported Egolf, a professional circuit in North Caroline for 2 years now.
O’Neal holed more birdies today that any other kind of score on a hole, no less than 10! Humble, he said that no course can be said to be easy but admitted the Palmeraie golf course is open and allows a aggressive game.
Last but not least, this first round of the season was the D-day as far as no smoking new regulation was concerned. Sweets and Nicorette gums were at the first tee with tees and pin positions. But the story is that there was no story or much ado about nothing. Everybody played the game. Neither caddies nor players or referees smoked and the air staid pure by this side of Marrakesh.
By Agathe Séron
At Palmeraie Golf Club