Davies storms into the lead in Morocco

26/03/2010 10:13:41

Welshman Rhys Davies fired the lowest round of his European Tour career to take the halfway lead at the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco.

The 24 year old, a teammate of Rory McIlroy at the 2007 Walker Cup and third in the Maybank Malaysian Open two weeks ago, added an eight under par 64 to his opening 68.

Davies goes into the weekend two in front of former Ryder Cup pair Thomas Levet and Ignacio Garrido and also South African Louis Oosthuizen.

The event is appearing on The European Tour International Schedule for the first time in its long history, and Levet is delighted with the new status of a competition which having been pro-am for the first two days now switches to professionals only.

“I came here in 1990 and played these two courses and I love the place,” said the Frenchman. “I’m playing with a sponsor of mine, the head of Lacoste in Morocco and he’s an 18 handicapper and he played very well yesterday. Today he struggled a little especially when he saw his name on the leaderboard but I was very pleased for him.”

First round leader Nick Dougherty, who like Davies switched from the Red course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam to the shorter and easier Blue, scored three shots worse and dropped to joint fifth place on ten under.

"This time last year I didn't really have any status in Europe," said Bridgend player Davies, "but I managed to get a win on the Challenge Tour and everything sort of spiralled from there.

"It's been really good the last 12 months. I am feeling very confident - you play golf to play well and to get to the top of the leaderboard.

"I think if you don't enjoy it at the top you wouldn't really want to do it."

As for his eight birdie round Davies added: "It went great. I rolled some really good putts in and overall it was a good day's work."

Oosthuizen matched his 64, while Frenchman Levet returned a 65 and Spaniard Garrido a 67.

“I hit some wayward iron shots today but otherwise it was pretty good,” said Oosthuizen. “I putted nicely and basically I am trying to work on my consistency.

“It’s good to see Thomas Aiken up there alongside me. We both grew up with Charl Schwartzel so it is something of an inspiration to us to watch up win twice this year and get to the top of The Race to Dubai. We realise we have to step up to that new level that he has reached and it really is a challenge for all of us younger South Africans.”

Spaniard Garrido won this event in 1996 before going on to capture his maiden European Tour title and winning a Ryder Cup cap a year later.

“On the front nine I played solid,” he said. “A lot of shots went close and that’s where I got my birdies. On the back nine I holed a couple of long putts and took advantage of the par fives so it was okay.”

Dougherty, joined on ten under by Aiken and Joost Luiten of The Netherlands, commented: "I didn't play great. The Blue course is quite a bit easier and I didn't capitalise on it, but three under is not too bad and I'm still in contention.

"I've not put two good rounds together in a long while and I'm proud of my performance."

He had a hat-trick of birdies from the 15th and was four under for the round with seven to go, but played them in one over.

Luiten is returning from a long-standing wrist problem, which was only correctly treated with a visit to a doctor specialising in field hockey injuries.

“I saw so many doctors who were specialists but couldn’t locate the problem,” he said. “Then I came across this doctor who works with the Dutch field hockey team and he knew straight away what it was and said it is a common injury in hockey. He operated on my left wrist and it seems to have worked,  but it’s been difficult to come out here and try to play at this level after so long. It’s tougher than I expected.”