Marcel Siem (Getty Images)
Marcel Siem moved a step closer to Masters Tournament debut in a fortnight’s time as the German established a three shot halfway lead at the Trophée Hassan II.
The 32 year old, who requires a win to stand any chance of climbing into the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 50 and earn an invite to Augusta National, had seven birdies and three bogeys as he moved to 12 under par at Golf du Palais Royal.
On his chances of earning a last-minute ticket to the year’s first Major, Siem said: “I am trying my best. It is a tournament I have always wanted to play and if I can keep calm and play the way that I have been for the first two days here then I have a chance.
“I actually hope the wind blows a little bit more because I actually enjoy the challenge of playing into the wind and it would also keep the guys behind me away from me because if there is no wind out there then people can go very low around this course.”
Having dashed to four under through eight holes in calmer conditions than the strong winds faced on the opening morning, Open de France winner Siem’s only regret was that he had not built a bigger lead.
“I think it should have been better than it was to be honest,” he added.
“The bogeys on four and seven were a bit weird because I was in the middle of the fairway there.
“But otherwise, this course is always tricky and I should accept the 68 because it’s always nice to go under par after such a low round the day before because that can be quite difficult to follow up on sometimes.”
England’s 2011 winner David Horsey and Finland’s Mikko Ilonen are Siem’s nearest challengers after carding rounds of 67 and 66 respectively.
Ilonen landed both his European Tour titles back in 2007 but a tee shot to four feet at the 16th and 60 foot eagle putt at the long next gave him a great chance to end his six-year exodus from the winner’s circle.
“It was easy conditions this morning and I managed to take advantage of them,” he said. “I actually didn’t play the best but I scored well.
“I left a few out there out then made a few birdies that I shouldn’t have so it was a good day overall.”
Horsey had four birdies in his first five holes, but double bogeyed the short eighth to turn in 34.
However, he started for home in fine fashion with birdies from 12 and 15 feet at the tenth and 11th and picked up further shots at the 15th and 17th before finishing with a bogey.
“I am pleased overall and in a good position going into the weekend,” said Horsey, whose opening 68 had come in the most blustery conditions on Thursday morning.
“I think you do feed off the positive vibes when you come back to a place where you have won and that is certainly the case for me this week. I am coming into form at the right time and I have been playing good the last few weeks.”
Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal moved into fourth with a 64, while Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger – another trying for a last-gasp Masters spot – advanced to a share of fifth with a 66.