Calum Hill of Scotland weathered the heat and humidity at Heritage Golf Club on Friday to card a fine eight-under-par 64 to move to 12-under and a one-stroke lead after the second round of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
It was very nearly a flawless round for the 25-year-old who won twice on the Challenge Tour this year, with just a single bogey coming on his homeward nine after he started on the 10th. He turned in five-under 31, and dropped the shot on the sixth â€“ his 15th â€“ to be just clear of first-round leader Brandon Stone, Thomas Detry of Belgium, and Matthieu Pavon of France in the tournament sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour, the European Tour and the Asian Tour.
â€œIâ€™m happy with that, especially to make a putt on the last hole to finish off a good round,â€ said Hill. â€œI made a lot of long-range putts â€“ 20, 25 foot â€“ probably made four of those. Managed to get the putter going well today, which added up to a good score.â€
Hill got a start on the European Tour in July when he played in the Scottish Open and finished in a share of 26th, and has found it relatively easy so far to step up from the Challenge Tour from which he graduated.
â€œI havenâ€™t noticed a huge difference yet coming from Challenge Tour,â€ he said. â€œObviously the fields are stronger, but itâ€™s the same as every tournament you play â€“ 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.â€
The Scottish Open of 2018 was Stoneâ€™s last victory, and, after a tough 2019, he is starting to round into form again. He also dropped just a single shot on his way to a five-under 67. â€œI was always in play, gave myself a lot of opportunities and managed to convert a fair number of them,â€ said Stone.
Detry, who is yet to win on the European Tour, but has looked likely to do so soon, overcame a poor start with two bogeys in his first four holes. He went on to make an eagle and seven birdies, together with one more dropped shot as he signed for a 66.
Pavon had a bogey-free journey around the course on his way to a six-under-par 66, with a birdie on 18 lifting him into a share of second.
Five players were another shot back on 10-under at the halfway mark â€“ Sihwan Kim of the United States, Connor Syme of Scotland and the French duo of Antoine Rozner and Benjamin Hebert â€“ after a hot and humid day.
â€œItâ€™s been very warm â€“ Leopard Creek was slightly different, itâ€™s a lot drier,â€ said the leader Hill of the difference between the head for the Alfred Dunhill Championship and that on the Indian Ocean island. â€œHere itâ€™s hot and humid so you are sweating buckets for the whole round, but I seem to be getting used to it.â€
The Heritage Golf Club also offered a different challenge. â€œLeopard Creek is very demanding off the tee. This course is a bit wider but there has been more wind this week which makes it tricky. You have to position it quite well. There are a few holes where you’ve got to keep an eye out. One errant shot can cost you quite a lot,â€ said Hill.
He’s relishing the experience as he builds on the lessons of each successive tournament. â€œThe last couple of days the game has been nice,â€ he said. â€œLast week was a slow start and I played better at the weekend. Itâ€™s just built on from there.â€