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Laporta sets pace in Morocco

Press AssociationPress Association 6/05/2016 Phil Casey

Italy's Francesco Laporta claimed the halfway lead in the Hassan Trophy in Morocco in just his 15th appearance on the European Tour.

Laporta added a second round of 70 to an opening 68 at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam to finish six under par, a shot ahead of Spain's Borja Virto Astudillo, Australia's Jason Scrivener and Korea's Wang Jeunghun.

Starting on the back nine, Laporta birdied the 10th and 12th before dropping a shot on the 13th and carding a double bogey on the par-three 14th, but responded with four birdies in the next six holes.

The 25-year-old, who gained his card via the qualifying school in November, dropped another shot on the tough eighth but was delighted to carry on the form he showed in finishing fourth in a Challenge Tour event in Madrid on Sunday.

"I played very well from the start," Laporta said.

"Unfortunately I gave the shots back with the double on 14, but I actually hit a pretty good tee shot, but it just caught the bunker and then I three-putted. But other than that, I hit the ball very well again. It was just a really solid display and I enjoyed it."

South Africa's Zander Lombard had reached seven under par earlier in the day after four birdies and an eagle on the daunting Red Course, which measures almost 7,500 yards.

However, the world No.260 then bogeyed the seventh and double-bogeyed the eighth and had to settle for a second consecutive 70.

Lombard, who has not finished outside the top 12 in four European Tour events this season, said: "It's definitely a course where you have to hit the fairways and put it in the right spots on the greens.

"I hit a few wayward drives and managed well to keep the (high) scores off the card, but eight is such a brutal hole into the wind. I tried to hit it too hard down the left and made a silly three-putt so a bit disappointed with that double, but the rest of the round was really solid and I'm definitely looking forward to the weekend.

"It's my first big week event in a few weeks so it's very nice to be in the mix again on a weekend and I'm definitely going to try my best."

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