Calum Hill climbs to the summit in Mauritius

Calum Hill tees up a putt at the eighth greenCalum Hill tees up a putt at the eighth green
Calum Hill tees up a putt at the eighth green
Fifer leads a strong Scottish challenge

Calum Hill, who is playing in just his second event as a European Tour card holder, is out in front at the halfway stage in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open and has both Connor Syme and Grant Forrest backing him up on the leaderboard.

Hill, a three-time winner on the Challenge Tour, made nine birdies as he carded a second-round eight-under-par 64 at Heritage Golf Club to move to 12-under-par.

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The 25-year-old leads by a shot from South African Brandon Stone, Belgian Thomas Detry and Matthieu Pavon from France, with Syme one further back in joint-fifth as he maintained his strong start to the new season.

Forrest, who shared the lead after an opening 66, is also in the top 20 while three other Scots – David Law, Paul Lawrie and Doug McGuigan – progressed to the weekend as well.

Hill, who graduated from the Challenge Tour in second spot in the Road to Mallorca rankings, bagged five birdies in his opening seven holes to turn in 31 in steamy conditions in the Indian Ocean.

He then picked up two more shots at the second and third before following his only bogey of the day at the par-4 sixth with two birdies in the last three holes.

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

Referring to a top-15 finish in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, he added: “Last week was a slow start and I played better at the weekend. It’s just built on from there. So far, so good (on the European Tour).”

Syme, who marked his return to the top tour by tying for 11th at Leopard Creek, was equally pleased with his day’s work, especially after being two-over standing on the fourth tee.

The 24-year-old then reeled off three birdies in a row from the fifth as he started to turn things around, with six birdies in the last eight holes seeing him sign for a 66.

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Forrest, who started the day in a five-way tie for the lead, recovered from an opening double-bogey 6 to cover the next 17 holes in three-under as he carded a 71 to sit joint-16th on seven-under.

“It was a bad start on the first and a bit scrappy for the first five or six holes,” said the 26-year-old. “I got it together and played nicely after that but made nothing coming in.

“Nicely poised for the weekend. I’ll need a couple of good ones at the weekend, but no reason why not.”