Robin Dawson raced to the top of the leaderboard on day one of the Lalla Aïcha Challenge Tour in what looks set to be a pivotal week for the European Challenge Tour rookie.
The 23-year-old posted eight birdies and ten pars in a flawless eight under par opening round of 64 on the Blue Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam to sit one shot clear of Englishman Jack Senior.
Dawson, who currently occupies 88th position on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, is looking to surge up the standings with a strong finish this week, with only the top 53 players in the Rankings following the Moroccan event confirmed a place in the field for the penultimate event of the season, the Foshan Open.
With four events remaining before the top 45 players battle it out for the all-important 15 European Tour berths up for grabs at the Challenge Tour Grand Final, the former Walker Cup player knows a strong result is required this week. He duly delivered on day one, posting six birdies over his opening eight holes to propel himself into the lead, before picking up two more shots from the turn.
“I’m outside the top 70 so I know that I’ve got to play well in the next couple of weeks to give myself a chance,” he said. “I’ve got nothing to lose, so I’m just going to go out there and give it 100 per cent.”
The Portmarnock player recorded an impressive round of 64, six under par, in the third round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on the European Tour as he attained a career-best top 30 finish in the Rolex Series event, but finds himself in contention for the first time in his short career following a mixed debut season.
“I’m really pleased,” he said. “It was just nice carefree golf out there today. My form has been rubbish, if I’m honest, but golf is a funny game. I feel like I’ve been playing okay and then I shoot something that leaves me scratching my head, wondering what is going on.
“I’m really enjoying playing this week. This is one of the best courses we play all year, the greens were perfect and tee to green you’ve got to be accurate if you’re going to score well. I can’t fault the course at all, it’s been really fun.”
Swede Oscar Lengden sits two shots behind Dawson’s lead, on six under par, as he goes in search of his third Challenge Tour title in as many years, with Welshman David Boote, Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson and Spaniard Santiago Tarrio Ben one shot further back.
The second round of the Lalla Aïcha Challenge Tour will begin at 8:00am local time, with Dawson getting his second round under way at 2:00pm.