The American duo of Nico Bollini and Christopher Baker and Spaniard Jesus Maris Arruti leapt to the top of the leaderboard on the second day of the Moroccan Golf Classic at Pullman Mazagan Royal Golf and Spa.
Baker enjoyed the best second round of the three men, carding a six under par 66 to move one shot clear of overnight leader Thomas Norret, who dropped back to eight under par after a triple bogey at his last hole.
Dutchman Richard Kind, who had trailed Norret by one shot overnight, also endured a difficult day, as a round of 73 saw him share fourth place alongside the Dane.
But for Bollino and Arruti it was plain sailing, as they shot rounds of 70 and 68 respectively, while Italian Stefano Reale carded a nine under par 63 – comfortably the lowest round of the day – to move to six under par overall.
Baker, who notched eight birdies and two bogeys, said: “There are ten of us out here from the States this week, and we’re having a blast. It’s my first time in Morocco, and it’s a great country. The course here is fantastic – the last couple of holes you’re looking out over the sea, and you don’t get any more beautiful than that.
“I’m very pleased with how I’m playing. I only missed one fairway all day, and three greens. I can honestly say I didn’t leave any shots out there, and my putting was much better after working on it yesterday.”
Spaniard Arruti continued the fine form which has yielded two top five finishes this year. He said: “I’m very pleased with how I’m playing, and just want to try and finish as high as I can this weekend. I’ve had two top fives this season so feel I am playing well, and while it was disappointing to miss the cut last week in Scotalnd, I couldn’t get the pace of the greens so I feel much more comfortable here.
“It’s hot here in Morocco but I’m looking forward to the weekend, when hopefully I will be as accurate for the last two rounds.
“Today I played much better tee to green but missed a few short putts. The conditions were perfect, much easier than yesterday when the wind was up. It’s a very tight course, where you have to be accurate off the tee to be able to attack the greens – and that is one of my strengths.”
Bollini attributed his fine performance over the first two days to the week he spent at the course in April, when the tournament was postponed at short notice because of the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud.
“The course is great and I have a little bit of an advantage in that I was here the whole week the tournament was cancelled, as I’d already arrived from the United States and was playing in Turkey the following week,” he said. “There was absolutely no one here, and my friend and I played a lot.
“I didn’t play quite as well as yesterday. On this course if you hit the fairways it’s usually just a wedge into the green, so there are a lot of birdie chances. But I didn’t hit as many fairways today and was hitting out of the rough a lot more.
“The climate and conditions are pretty similar to California, where I’m from, so I feel very comfortable here. I haven’t got a great category on the Challenge Tour at the moment, so it would be great to win. That’s the objective.”
|1||BAKER, Christopher Ryan||USA||18||-13|
|T2||DEL GROSSO, Pablo||ARG||18||-11|
|T2||ARRUTI, Jesus Maria||ESP||18||-11|