Siem holds on to his lead in Morocco

German looking to move into world top 50 and earn Masters invite

Germany’s Marcel Siem  tees off on the 12th hole during the second round of the Trophee du Hassan II at Golf du Palais Royal  in Agadir, Morocco. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Germany’s Marcel Siem tees off on the 12th hole during the second round of the Trophee du Hassan II at Golf du Palais Royal in Agadir, Morocco. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Fri, Mar 29, 2013, 19:09

Marcel Siem maintained his three-shot lead at the Hassan II Trophy in Morocco after a four-under-par 68 in his second round to further boost his Masters push.

Siem, who is hoping for a strong result at the Golf du Palais Royal in order to break into the world’s top 50 ahead of the qualification cut-off for Augusta, made seven birdies and three bogeys on his way to 12 under overall. However, the German failed to make any headway into that score after four birdies in his opening eight holes.

Indeed, he would have seen his lead cut to two shots by Finland’s Mikko Ilonen and England’s David Horsey had he not picked up a shot on the 409-yard ninth hole — his last.

“I think it should have been better than it was to be honest,” Siem told europeantour.com. “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.”

Ilonen found himself three shots back on nine under overall after an entertaining 66. His round included seven birdies, an eagle and a bogey but it will be the double bogey at the par-five 519-yard 15th that will frustrate the 33-year-old. Horsey, a winner when the tournament was first staged in Agadir two years ago, was in joint second after a five-under-par round today.

The 27-year-old got off to a flying start when he birdied his first three holes and then picked up another stroke at the fifth, but a double bogey five at the eighth dropped him back. He then picked up another four birdies and a bogey at the last on the back nine.

Pablo Larrazabal enjoyed the best round of the day, however, as he surged up the leaderboard with an eventful 64. Like Horsey, the Spaniard birdied his first three holes as well as the fifth, sixth and ninth but saw his score falter with birdies at the fourth and seventh holes.

His back nine was a rather more sedate affair, although he still picked up another four shots to move onto eight under overall. Scotland’s Craig Lee, Bernd Wiesberger of Austria and Norway’s Andreas Harto were tied for fifth two shots further back, while Joost Luiten was on four under.

Defending champion Michael Hoey bounced back from an opening 74 with a three-under-par 69 that moved him to one under. The Ulster golfer carded six birdies, including three straight from the 15th, but also dropped three strokes.

David Higgins shot a 75 and lies one shot outside the projected cut mark of three over.

Peter Lawrie (74) and Gareth Maybin (70) will have the weekend off after both finished on five over, as will Damien McGrane, who dropped to 10 over with a 74 after yesterday’s 80.