Friday, 14 March 2014
Alejandro Canizares  (Getty Images)
Alejandro Canizares (Getty Images)
Halfway leader Alejandro Cañizares is hoping to return to winning ways at the Trophée Hassan II this weekend, eight years after claiming his first European Tour title.

Cañizares won on only his third start as an affiliate member at the 2006 Russian Open, but has now played almost 200 events without adding a second trophy to his collection.

The 31 year old has already compiled two top-ten finishes in 2014, and admits he has taken confidence from a strong showing at last season’s Turkish Airlines Open, where he played alongside World Number One Tiger Woods in the penultimate group on Sunday.

“Thanks for reminding me!” He joked when reminded about the time since his last win.

“I feel great; my game is definitely there so I just need to get in the groove again. If I don’t overthink things and just let them happen, hopefully I will enjoy the weekend.     

“It’s very inspiring to play with the best player in the world, and you can only learn from experiences like that.” 

Cañizares held a one-shot lead over England’s Seve Benson after a stunning opening 62 at Golf du Palais Royal in Agadir, the Spaniard carding 11 birdies and one bogey despite playing in the windier afternoon conditions.

And although Benson, who was named after the late five-time Major winner Seve Ballesteros, briefly took over the lead this morning as he followed on from his flawless 63, Cañizares hit back to reclaim his slender advantage.

After reaching the turn in 36 with a birdie at the first cancelled out by a bogey on the second, Cañizares birdied six of his next seven holes, the blemish coming as the World Number 141 three-putted the 13th from long range.

Finding a fairway bunker on the 17th cost Cañizares another bogey, but a second round of 68 gave him a halfway total of 14 under par, one ahead of Benson who had also carded a 68.

"I felt really confident so I was not thinking too much, I needed to let the golf happen," Cañizares said. "In some cases my putter was a little cold today but I kept it going on the back nine.

"It was a pity I bogeyed the 17th because that is a birdie hole but overall I am very happy to be leading at the moment and very excited for the weekend."

Benson is still looking for his first win after claiming three titles on the Challenge Tour, with the 27 year old having dropped just one shot in 36 holes.

He said: "I managed to keep the momentum going early doors through the tough holes and once I got through those I could press on a bit.

"There was no wind for the first eight or nine holes, which made it a totally different golf course compared to yesterday. It picked up a little on the back nine but nothing to what it was yesterday so it was a lot easier today."

Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello occupied third place on nine under after a 67 that threatened to be even better after covering his first nine holes in just 30 shots, but bogeys at the fifth and seventh halted his charge.

The best round of the day came from England's David Horsey, who won this event in 2011, who carded a flawless 64 to lie eight under alongside Sweden's Magnus A Carlsson and American Connor Arendell.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1CAÑIZARES, AlejandroESP18-19
T3CARLSSON, Magnus ASWE18-12
T3BENSON, SeveENG18-12
T5BLAND, RichardENG18-11

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