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Hill climbs to the top in Mauritius

Hill climbs to the top in Mauritius

Calum Hill continued his strong start to life on the European Tour with a stunnning 64 to take a one shot lead into the weekend at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.

Calum Hill

The Scot graduated from the European Challenge Tour last season as he made headlines over a summer spell that saw him win twice with three other top tens in five starts.

A top 15 at last week's Alfred Dunhill Championship was a good start to the new season and he brought that form to Heritage Golf Club, moving to 12 under as he matched the lowest round of the week.

Rolex Series winner Brandon Stone, Belgian Thomas Detry and Frenchman Matthieu Pavon were then at 11 under, a shot clear of two more Frenchmen in Benjamin Hebert and Antoine Rozner, American Sihwan Kim and Scot Connor Syme.

This is just Hill's sixth career European Tour start but he has risen to 115th on the Official World Golf Ranking in only two and a half years in the paid ranks.

"So far, so good," he said of the start to his European Tour career. "We seem to be following the sunshine so we're always playing in warm weather and the courses are in great condition, so can't complain.

"I haven't noticed a huge difference yet coming from Challenge Tour. Obviously the fields are stronger but it's the same as every tournament you play - you go out and do your best, see where that puts you at the end of the week and dig in when you need to.

"The last couple of days the game has been nice. I managed to get the putter going well today, which added up to a good score. Last week was a slow start and I played better at the weekend. It's just built on from there."

South African Stone entered the day in a share of the lead but quickly burst clear with birdies on the tenth, 11th and 13th helping him turn in 33.

Hill also started on the back nine and he was even more impressive, with gains on the tenth and 16th sandwiching a hat-trick of birdies from the 12th.

Stone got to double figures with a birdie on the second and another on the third was followed by a 15 footer on the sixth that moved him to 12 under.

Hill was not giving up the chase, however, birdieing the second and third, and a Stone bogey on the eighth meant there was a share for the lead.

Stone parred the ninth to set the target with a 67 and led alone when Hill bogeyed the sixth but the 25-year-old hit straight back with a two putt birdie on the par five seventh.

A wonderful 20 foot putt over the ridge on the ninth then edged Hill into the solo lead for the first time.

Detry made a poor start with bogeys on the first and fourth but four birdies in five holes saw him turn in 34.

He started the back nine bogey-birdie but then hit a remarkable second to two feet to eagle the 14th for the second day in a row, holed from off the green on the next and made a two putt birdie from just off the green on the last in a 66.

Pavon was bogey free in his second round, picking up shots on the first, second, fourth, 14th, 15th and 18th as he matched Detry's total.

Syme birdied six of his last eight holes in a 66, Kim and Rozner both signed for rounds of 67 and Hebert carded a 68.

Danish duo Rasmus Højgaard and Søren Kjeldsen were at nine under alongside South Africa's Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

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