On the DP World Tour’s return to the country for the first time since 2014, Northern Ireland’s Tom McKibbin took pride of place as the 20-year-old rookie set the pace with a polished eight-under-par 64.
But it was also a productive day for both Forrest and Jamieson at Laguna National Golf Resort Club as they signed for matching 68s to sit inside the top 20.
“Yeah, a fast start,” said Forrest of having opened with three straight birdies before also adding gains at the fifth and eighth. “There’s a few chances starting out and I was inside 15 feet on the first eight holes.”
The 2021 Hero Open champion then followed a bogey at the ninth with birdies at the 11th and 14th before finishing bogey-double bogey-birdie.
“Sixteen and 17 are both tough holes,” added Forrest, who has started the 2023 calendar campaign with three solid performances. “I just missed the fairway on 16 and it’s a petty tough green to go at from the rough.
“I left myself the lesser of the two evils there by going long and made 5 and then I hit it in the bunker on 17 and ended up being too cute with it and took 5, so that was a bit of a mental error. But I hit two nice shots on the green at 18.”
The conditions were somewhat different to what Forrest is used to when he’s playing or practising at home in East Lothian. “Most of us are not used to,” he said of the heat index hitting 36 degrees due to the humidity, “and you can’t drink enough water.
“I hear that we have been quite lucky this week as it’s not been as hot as it can be. But, when the sun comes out, it’s like when you throw water on the coals in a sauna. It feels about ten degrees warmer!"
Playing in one of the final groups, Jamieson had moved to five-under with three to play before being left a tad frustrated by a bogey-birdie-bogey finish.
McKibbin, who played a practice round in Dubai recently with fellow Holywood Golf Club product Rory McIroy, produced a bogey-free effort to lead by one from Swedish duo Simon Forsström and Joakim Lagergren, Frenchman Mathieu Pavon and Finland’s Sami Välimäki.
Ewen Ferguson birdied his final hole to open with a 70, one less than both Richie Ramsay and Connor Syme while Marc Warren signed for a 72. But it was a disappointing day for Bob MacIntyre and Calum Hill as they had to settle for 74s.
Kiwi Ryan Fox, the highest-ranged player in the field, ran up a quadruple-bogey 8 at the 12th in his par-72, with German Marcel Siem marking his 500th DP World Tour appearance - he’s just the 45th player to reach that milestone - with a 74.
In a double-header at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Morocco, Paul Lawrie (70) and Colin Montgomerie (71) both sit inside the top 10 in the Trophy Hassan II on the Champions Tour while Louise Duncan (74) fared best among four Scots in the LET’s Lalla Meryem Cup.