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Dawson falls from grace but still plenty to play for in Morocco

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Waterford’s Robin Dawson fell from his lofty perch atop the leaderboard and endured a miserable round on day two at the Lalla Aicha Challenge Tour in Morocco

Dawson was magical in round one and his flawless 64 was enough for a one shot overnight lead, but it all went horribly wrong early on in round two as he bogeyed his opening hole and followed that up with two more bogeys and a double bogey before he reached the turn.

It didn’t get much better from there with two more bogeys in the next three and while  there was a chink of light with a birdie on his 16th he gave it straight back on his final hole and signed for a 79. But tomorrow is another day and he has proved more than once that he can bounce back from this kind of disappointment.

A mixed bag also awaited Danny Brennan who was on the cusp of making the cut at the start of the day but returned five bogeys and a double bogey to go along with two birdies in his round of 77 and he missed the halfway cut by five shots.

The result sees Dawson drop into a share of 31st position on one-under par, nine shots off the pace set by Antoine Rozner who put himself in pole position to secure instant promotion to the European Tour after carding a spectacular seven under par round of 65.

The Frenchman carded eight birdies, including five consecutive gains from the turn, to lead at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam by one stroke on ten under par ahead of Sweden’s Joel Sjöholm.

The 26-year-old, a two-time winner on the Road to Mallorca in 2019, could gain automatic promotion to the European Tour with a victory in Morocco and has put himself in the ideal spot to do so after charging up the leaderboard on day two.

“I played really solid,” he said. “I had quite a slow start, made a lot of pars and one birdie on four, one bad three putt on six but then another birdie on the ninth to reach the turn at one under so I was quite happy with that.

“Then on the back nine I just kept making birdies, from ten to 14, and then another one on 16. I haven’t shot 30 in nine holes in a while, so I had a lot of fun out there today.

“The Blue Course is quite difficult. You have to be precise with your tee shots and the greens are very firm as well, so I’ve got to be happy with that. This is the position you want to be in and I’m looking forward to going out there and seeing what I can do at the weekend.’’

Rozner, who lifted the Challenge de España and Prague Golf Challenge titles in May, snatched the lead in Morocco just a week after soaring into a share of the third round lead at the Hopps Open de Provence, eventually finishing in a share for ninth place.

Currently occupying second spot on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, Rozner would become the first person to secure his playing rights on the European Tour via the three-win rule since Kim Koivu achieved the feat in Switzerland at the 2018 Rolex Trophy.

Sjöholm will begin day three just one shot back after posting a six under par round of 66 on Friday, which included nine birdies, as he goes in search of his second European Challenge Tour title, and first victory since his triumph at the Italian Challenge Open in 2017.

He sits two shots clear of Spaniard Santiago Tarrio Ben on seven under par, who requires a strong finish over the next few weeks to ensure he earns one of the 45 spots available for the Challenge Tour Grand Final next month, with New Zealand’s Josh Geary and Englishman Jack Senior one stroke further back.

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