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Hill handles Mauritius heat to take halfway lead 1

6th December 2019

Hill handles Mauritius heat to take halfway lead

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 – his 15th – 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.

“I’m happy with that, especially to make a putt on the last hole to finish off a good round,” said Hill. “I made a lot of long-range putts – 20, 25 foot – probably made four of those. Managed to get the putter going well today, which added up to a good score.”

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.

“I haven’t noticed a huge difference yet coming from Challenge Tour,” he said. “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 Scottish Open of 2018 was Stone’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. “I was always in play, gave myself a lot of opportunities and managed to convert a fair number of them,” 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 – Sihwan Kim of the United States, Connor Syme of Scotland and the French duo of Antoine Rozner and Benjamin Hebert – after a hot and humid day.

“It’s been very warm – Leopard Creek was slightly different, it’s a lot drier,” said the leader Hill of the difference between the head for the Alfred Dunhill Championship and that on the Indian Ocean island. “Here it’s hot and humid so you are sweating buckets for the whole round, but I seem to be getting used to it.”

The Heritage Golf Club also offered a different challenge. “Leopard 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,” said Hill.

He’s relishing the experience as he builds on the lessons of each successive tournament. “The last couple of days the game has been nice,” he said. “Last week was a slow start and I played better at the weekend. It’s just built on from there.”

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