It proved to be a bitterly disappointing second day for Ireland’s hopefuls as all three missed the weekend cut at the Trophée Hassan II.
In blustery conditions, it wasn’t to be the Friday that Michael Hoey, Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan hoped for as the trio’s chanced blew away in the wind at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam.
Belfast professional Hoey, who won the event in 2012, went into today in great shape following an opening 69, thanks largely to his wife for jetting halfway across to world to recover a back-up set of sticks after his own clubs were lost in transit en route to Morocco.
However the comedy of day one turned to tragedy in round two as the 39-year-old dropped eight shots en route to a crushing 79 to miss the hallway cut by a solitary stroke.
Having made just one cut this year at the Challenge Tour’s Kenyan Open, it will be a tough pill to swallow for the seasoned pro but hopefully Hoey can take great confidence from his wonderful opening round and carry that encouragement into the rest of the season.
It wasn’t to be for pre-tournament favourite, Paul Dunne either, who lost in a playoff to Edoardo Molinari at this very event last year. Having opened with a one-over-par 73, Dunne was eight-over-par through 12 holes today as his prospects of going one better than last year looked to be blowing up in smoke.
However, to his credit, Dunne rallied and successive birdies on 14 and 15 were followed by a spectacular ace on 17, the 11th hole-in-one of the season from 204 yards with a sweetly-struck seven iron.
Unfortunately his four-over-par effort this morning was two short of what was required for the Wicklow man to feature on the weekend, but no doubt better days lie in wait for Dunne.
For Gavin Moynihan, however, he added a 76 to his opening 77 to finish well outside the cut mark on nine-over-par. Let’s hope Gavin can rediscover the form of last year that earned him his European Tour card in the first place.
It’s forgotten Spaniard, Alvaro Quiros, who leads the way after he carded a battling 70 in windy conditions to open up a one-shot lead on day two of the tournament.
Quiros entered the day in a share of the lead and he continued his good form as he set the clubhouse target at seven under, one shot clear of Australian Andrew Dodt.
Quiros had five consecutive winning seasons on the European Tour from 2006 to 2011, winning six events in that time, but had decided to concentrate on the Challenge Tour before winning last season’s Rocco Forte Open – Verdura, Sicily when placed 703rd in the Official World Golf Ranking.
He is currently 435th after making just three of 19 cuts since his victory in Italy but showed all the qualities that have made him a seven-time winner on Friday.
South African Erik van Rooyen was then at five under, a shot clear of Welshman Bradley Dredge.
Van Rooyen began his round with eight consecutive pars but Quiros endured a roller coaster, making three runs of birdie-bogey in his first six holes.
That left the door open for Van Rooyen and when he birdied the eighth and 12th, he was the solo leader by one.
Quiros holed a 25-footer on the par three 17th to join the lead and when Van Rooyen dropped a first shot of the day on the 16th, it was the 35 year old who led the way.
He used his distance to leave wedges into the 18th and first for three birdies in a row and a three-shot lead, with Van Rooyen parring home to set the target at five under after a 71.
That was cut to two when he three-putted from a long way out on the fourth and Dodt had moved himself into a share for second alongside Van Rooyen.
The two-time European Tour winner bogeyed the fourth and sixth but picked up five shots in as many holes from the eighth, birdieing the eighth, ninth and 11th and eagling the 12th.
An excellent tee-shot into the par three 14th then set up another gain and the 32 year old was within one of the lead.
He missed an excellent birdie chance on the 16th but was soon in a share of top spot anyway as Quiros failed to get up and down from a bunker to drop a shot on the sixth.
A bounce-back birdie from 18 feet came on the seventh to edge Quiros one ahead and both he and Dodt parred their way home, with the latter carding a 68.
Dredge bogeyed the third and birdied the eighth to turn in level par. He dropped a shot on the 11th but was back in a share of the lead with a birdie on the 12th before making a third bogey of the day on the 14th in a 73.
Frenchman Benjamin Hebert carded a 70 with six birdies and three bogeys to sit at three under, a shot clear of bogey-free South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who posted a 69, and 2013 champion Marcel Siem who signed for a 71.