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Report on the second day of the Spain Challenge

Moscatel and García Heredia, hunting for Gros in the Challenge of Spain

Sebastièn Gros, durante la segunda ronda del Challenge de España en Sevilla. © Getty Images
Sebastièn Gros, durante la segunda ronda del Challenge de España en Sevilla. © Getty Images

Joel Moscatel and Alfredo García Heredia (-5) are four strokes behind the leader, the French Sebastien Gros (-9), at the halfway point of the Challenge of Spain being held at the Real Club Sevilla Golf. A very tight tournament in which there are only nine strokes difference between the leader and those who have made the cut. The Number One of the Challenge Tour, Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen, who is looking for his third victory to make the direct jump to the Tour, and the title defender, Martin Couvra, are tied two strokes behind in second position.

Scorching sun, heat and very firm and fast greens (13.1 on the stimpmeter in the morning) have been the general tone in the second round of the Challenge of Spain, a tournament sponsored by the Royal Spanish Golf Federation celebrating its 25th edition and in which regular DP World Tour players are fighting for the title.

All credit to the also French Sebastien Gros, a player who arrived at the DP World Tour in 2016 ready to take on the world and who has not yet found a way to return since he lost his card in 2018. Today he has made 64 strokes, with seven birdies and an eagle against a bogey. “I didn’t think I was capable of making 8 under par on this course, especially with these demanding greens. I started very well, with two good putts but also two good shots for birdie. It’s a very rewarding round. The key has been on the greens but golf is a matter of patience, and I tried to play my best golf on 18 different holes, without considering whether I could make birdie or not, I was focused on each shot I gave around the course, letting the good game come out, and then giving another shot. We are only halfway through the tournament, I am in a better position than if I were -1, of course, but I know this sport very well. Tomorrow will be another day, maybe better or maybe worse, but the only thing I am focused on is to continue having a good day today, even though I have finished playing. So this afternoon I’m going to Seville, I was there 15 or 16 years ago, when I played the King’s Cup, and I remember that Seville is a wonderful city but I don’t remember anything, so this afternoon I’m going to walk around it”. Sebastien is a player who started on the Alps Tour, where he won two tournaments and from there he moved to the Challenge Tour, where he won another two and jumped to the DPWT for two years.

Two strokes behind the leader share the second position six players with seven strokes under par, among which especially stand out the Danish Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen, who comes from winning two of the last three Challenge Tour tournaments which means that, if he wins the third, he will immediately jump to the DP World Tour, something he will fight for over the weekend; and also the young Martin Couvra of 21 years, who won last year’s Challenge of Spain when he was still an amateur. Now he comes in a different way, but with the same good game that has led him to climb to the top positions with two eagles, three birdies and two bogeys for 67 strokes and a total of seven less. Along with them are Jamie Rutherford, Andreas Halvorsen, Tapio Pulkkanen and Felix Mory.

The first Spanish qualifiers are in tenth position four strokes behind the leader. Joel Moscatel has made three birdies and a bogey, all for the second 9 holes today for 71 and a total of minus 5: “I started with all dream pars, because I went from side to side. It took me a while to get started, but we saved it very well because we were a bit dizzy, especially Alberto (Calvo, his caddie), it was a recital of approach and putt. Then on the 1st I made a birdie from the bunker, and on the 2nd a great shot. Then came two silly bogeys in a row but as the day went, I’m very happy, I hit good shots. When I missed something, it was compensated with something else, so everything squared well. I’m happy. Because of nerves or whatever, now I’ll analyze it but in the first 9 holes today things didn’t square with the swing but the second round did, so the swing is there, I’m not the worst in the world nor the best, it’s there. Between the first round and the second I’ve done nothing more than try to stick to my fundamentals, the things I work on and everything squared”.

Alfredo García-Heredia has made 4 birdies, 2 bogeys and an eagle, 69 strokes to share the 10th position with minus 5: “After a week in the United States with Jorge (Parada, his cousin and coach), to return and come to a demanding course, I am satisfied because I am not playing very well, but the changes we made in Liberty (New York course) look good for the rest of the year. I have worked many things with him, the game was not bad but it was not good either, he knows very well where to touch so that little by little it improves. Today I have hit very good shots again, I have felt comfortable, and I am happy. Now, to continue the season and let the results come out”.

Today the cut has been made in the classification, it has been at par and 77 players have passed it, among them 10 Spaniards: -5 Joel Moscatel and Alfredo García-Heredia, -3 Javier Sainz, -2 Eduard Rousaud, Quim Vidal and Álvaro Quirós; -1 Pep Anglés and Dani Berna; Lucas Vacarisas and Borja Martín.

The third round of the Challenge of Spain will start tomorrow at the Real Club Sevilla Golf at eight in the morning and the leaders’ match will start at 12.50 hours.

Live results of the Challenge of Spain