Frenchman Jean-Nicolas Billot, England’s Marcus Higley and Peter Kaensche of Norway lead the European Challenge Tour’s Riu Tikida Hotels Moroccan Classic on ten under par 132 after all three players sparkled under the North African sunshine to take a two shot lead at the aptly named Golf du Soleil in Agadir.
Higley carded the lowest score of the three leaders, posting a flawless second round of 65 to ensure that he would complete his opening 36 holes without dropping a single stroke. The 31 year old is hoping to emulate that kind of performance over the next two rounds as he, like his two co-leaders, bids to secure the first Challenge Tour event of his career.
Billot and Kaensche shared the same second round total of 66, which put them into a share of the lead – two shots clear of Switzerland’s André Bossert, England’s Gary Clark and Eric Moreul of France, with Moreul’s compatriot, David Dupart and Belgian Nicolas Vanhootegem , a shot further back.
Higley was delighted to come through the first half of the tournament without dropping a shot.
“I haven’t had a bogey in two rounds so that always helps,” said Higley. “That also indicates that all departments of the game are on song, so hopefully I can keep it going. I like the course here and having played here last season is a big help because I am not one for going out and having a practice round.
“I find that I get bored playing practice rounds for some reason. It is totally different from playing in a tournament and because I am aware of that I tend to lose concentration quite easily in practice and that can lead to you losing your rhythm and putting you off of your game.
“There were a couple of events last season where I didn’t play any of the course in practice. The best example of that was at the JJB Northwest Challenge because I didn’t play the course before the tournament began and had my best Challenge Tour finish of third place, so I think that does work for me.”
Kaensche is hoping for a victory that would turn his season around and enable him to concentrate fully on playing on the Challenge Tour.
“I putted well again today and am generally playing well,” he said Obviously I would love to win here because that would change the whole season for me. I am currently in category 12 on the Challenge Tour, which means that I can’t play in a lot of events, so to win here and become category one would change my whole season.”
The halfway cut fell at one under par, with 71 players left to contest the €20,800 top prize.