Defending champ Davies shares lead after 36 in Hassan Trophy with Luiten

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Despite playing at a new venue this year, Rhys Davies is halfway toward winning for a second straight time in Morocco.
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PA Sport and Associated Press

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Published: Friday, April 01, 2011 | 5:05 p.m.

Defending champion Rhys Davies of Wales shot a 1-under 70 Friday and shared the lead with Joost Luiten after the second round of the European Tour’s Hassan Trophy II.

Luiten, of the Netherlands, had a 69, and tied Davies at 6-under 137. Luiten had two double bogeys on the front nine but rallied for seven birdies, including four in the last six holes.

2011 HASSAN TROPHY II

The Hassan Trophy II is unusual in that it was staged as an exhibition for several years before becoming a full-fledged European Tour event.

Davies had two birdies and a bogey in windy conditions.

Nine players were tied for third. Overnight leader Peter Lawrie of Ireland followed up his 64 Thursday with a 76 to trail by three strokes.

High winds affected performances in Morocco, where the field have been split over the Golf De L'Ocean and Golf Du Palais Royal courses in a pro-am format for the first two days.

"I'm not feeling any pressure despite being defending champion this week,” said Davies. "It's a different golf course for one and I just feel very relaxed. I'm enjoying the pro-am format and I had a great partner today, Mazamischi Ito. He's a great player and has a great future ahead of him in golf.

"I've been working hard on my swing with my coach, trying to match up my arm swing with my body swing, and it's getting there,” he added. “The hard work is starting to come off. It's quite hard to do it in this wind, though."

Luiten was inconsistent with a round that included two double bogeys and a bogey on the front nine. However, the Dutchman also produced seven birdies.

"I was good on the back nine with four birdies so that kept me going," he said. "It was tough today, really tough, especially on the front nine. The holes coming into the wind are very tricky.

"On the back nine the wind was less but there are some really tricky pin positions, so overall it was a pretty hard day and you needed to be very straight off the tee. I'm pleased with the score I've come away with."

Mikko Ilonen carded eight birdies in a flawless 64 to move into a nine-way tie for third.

The group included Darren Clarke, who had another consistent round including four birdies and one bogey for a 69, and English pair David Horsey (71) and Robert Rock (68).

Scotland's Lloyd Saltman will have been disappointed after following his first-round 67 with a 72 to lie tied for 12th along with Wales' Liam Bond.

Sicilian Open winner Raphael Jacquelin also had a woeful day, carding two double bogeys and five bogeys to return a disappointing 77.