Phelan sitting pretty in Morocco
 Richie Ramsay. Picture © Getty Images

Richie Ramsay. Picture © Getty Images

Mount Juliet pro Kevin Phelan is just two shots behind leader Richie Ramsay and battling for his maiden European Tour win in Morocco.

As Scot Ramsay put injury and form frustrations behind him to surge through the field in the second round of the Trophee Hassan II, firing a six under par 66 to share the halfway lead with Wales’ Oliver Farr, Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Australian Richard Green, Phelan hit a second successive 70 to share 10th spot on four under.

The Waterford man bogeyed his opening hole, the 10th, but then made five birdies in six holes in the middle of his opening nine to get to six under par.

But while he played the rest in two over with bogeys at the 18th, the second and eighth against just one more birdie at the par-five fifth, he's still well placed to challenge this weekend.

Ramsay, who has been struggling with a back injury, has not registered in the prize money on The European Tour so far this year, missing four cuts and withdrawing after three rounds in Dubai due to illness.

But he showed the kind of form that has earned him two European Tour titles with six birdies at Golf du Palais Royal in Agadir, to join morning starters Cabrera-Bello (69) and Green (70) at the top of the leaderboard on six under par.

Phelan and Michael Hoey (70-73) were the only Irish players to make the cut with Damien McGrane dropping shots at three of his last six holes to miss out by one stroke on three over (73-71).

Gareth Maybin (74-76) and Peter Lawrie (76-76) also missed out. 

South African George Coetzee remains in contention for a second European Tour title in as many appearances, and a spot in next month’s Masters Tournament, after a level par round of 72. He is one shot off the pace on five under par, in a five-way tie for fifth position.

“The last few months have been frustrating," Ramsay said. "You just want to go out and play.

"I’ve had a few niggling injuries. I’ve just tried to stick to my guns and make sure I stretch, have a good practice routine. 

"That builds up and slowly but surely it comes around and today was the day it happened. Hopefully it can stay for the weekend.”

Cabrera-Bello added: “This is the first time I’ve worn golf shoes in six weeks. I broke my pinky toe on my right foot – not even a funny story, just banging it on a table. I haven’t been able to wear golf shoes as it was too painful. Today was the first day I’ve been able to wear them again, and it has been fine. 

"I tried them on this morning and it felt fine. It was a little risky but it was ok. Yesterday was superlight golf shoes. I had to play in Puerto Rico in tennis shoes and could barely tie them. I then managed to get some really wide, and big shoes to wear in Tampa, and today’s the first day it has been ok to wear the proper golf shoes. I’m pleased it didn’t bother me too much.”

Trophee Hassan II (par 72) 72 players made the cut on 146 (+2)

138 O Farr (Wal) 70 68, R Ramsay  (Sco) 72 66, R Green (Aus) 68 70, R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 69 69,

139 G Coetzee (RSA) 67 72, C Wood  (Eng) 67 72, B Evans  (Eng) 69 70, P Larrazábal (Esp) 70 69, R Bland (Eng) 69 70,

140 K Phelan (Irl) 70 70, J Campillo (Esp) 71 69, D Drysdale (Sco) 67 73, J Lagergren (Swe) 72 68, D Howell (Eng) 70 70, A Wall (Eng) 68 72, M Orrin (Eng) 70 70, J Van Zyl (RSA) 69 71,

141 O Wilson (Eng) 68 73, C Paisley  (Eng) 71 70, T Fleetwood  (Eng) 70 71, R Santos  (Por) 69 72, B Ritthammer (Ger) 71 70, D Horsey (Eng) 70 71, S Kjeldsen (Den) 68 73, S Benson (Eng) 73 68,

142 R Wattel  (Fra) 68 74, M Schneider (Ger) 73 69, A McArthur  (Sco) 71 71, P Edberg (Swe) 71 71, F Fritsch  (Ger) 70 72, M Korhonen (Fin) 68 74, A Saddier (Fra) 65 77,

143 E Grillo (Arg) 74 69, M Lampert (Ger) 68 75, E Espana (Fra) 73 70, S Jamieson  (Sco) 74 69, M Manassero (Ita) 72 71, M Hoey  (Nir) 70 73, B An (Kor) 72 71, A Johnston (Eng) 72 71, E De La Riva  (Esp) 68 75, M Carlsson  (Swe) 73 70, W Ormsby (Aus) 71 72, K Broberg (Swe) 73 70,

144 N Fasth (Swe) 71 73, P Waring  (Eng) 70 74, S Hend (Aus) 71 73, J Walters (RSA) 71 73, A Marshall (Eng) 71 73,

145 M Lundberg (Swe) 70 75, J Olazábal (Esp) 69 76, J Quesne  (Fra) 70 75, S Kapur (Ind) 72 73, N Elvira  (Esp) 73 72, M Foster (Eng) 73 72, J Morrison  (Eng) 72 73, O Fisher  (Eng) 74 71, E Pepperell (Eng) 71 74, C Lloyd (Eng) 76 69,

146 M Matsumura (Jpn) 72 74, G Bourdy (Fra) 75 71, R Karlsson (Swe) 72 74, P Oriol (Esp) 71 75, L Slattery (Eng) 77 69, B Hebert  (Fra) 75 71, M Lorenzo-Vera  (Fra) 74 72, R Jacquelin (Fra) 70 76, R Rock (Eng) 74 72, T Lewis (Eng) 69 77, M Kieffer (Ger) 73 73, P Widegren  (Swe) 73 73, R Finch  (Eng) 75 71,

CUT

147 G Stal  (Fra) 70 77, M Siem  (Ger) 68 79, D McGrane (Irl) 76 71, J Parry (Eng) 74 73, A Levy (Fra) 72 75, J Palmer (Eng) 74 73, S Manley (Wal) 74 73, B Virto Astudillo (Esp) 74 73, G Storm  (Eng) 74 73,

148 A Tadini (Ita) 72 76, D Gaunt (Eng) 66 82, A Velasco (Esp) 76 72, Y El Hassani (Mar) 74 74, A Quiros (Esp) 73 75, D Lipsky (USA) 76 72, J Lee (am) (Kor) 75 73,

149 L Jensen (Den) 75 74, M Tullo (Chi) 71 78, J Scrivener (Aus) 75 74, P Maddy (Eng) 72 77, A Hortal  (Esp) 77 72, A Sullivan (Eng) 74 75,

150 G Maybin (Nir) 74 76, A Pavan (Ita) 71 79, J Roos (RSA) 75 75, A Cañizares  (Esp) 77 73, R Paratore (Ita) 74 76, M Keskari (Ger) 74 76,

151 R McEvoy  (Eng) 75 76, M Crespi  (Ita) 73 78, M Ford (Eng) 77 74, B Dredge (Wal) 72 79,

152 A Otaegui  (Esp) 71 81, P Lawrie (Irl) 76 76, L Bjerregaard  (Den) 78 74, J Hahn (USA) 78 74, M Nixon (Eng) 76 76, T Pieters  (Bel) 71 81,

153 S Hutsby  (Eng) 74 79, C Lee (Sco) 78 75, R Davies (Wal) 82 71, M Baldwin (Eng) 76 77,

154 M Fitzpatrick  (Eng) 77 77, J Edfors (Swe) 77 77, D Woltman (USA) 77 77, R Fisher (Eng) 77 77, J Barnes (Eng) 76 78, F Serghini  (Mar) 75 79, 

155 T Hatton (Eng) 79 76, C Bouniol (Fra) 80 75, T Murray (Eng) 77 78, C Del Moral (Esp) 76 79, J Fahrbring (Swe) 73 82, J Lando Casanova  (Fra) 81 74, R Gonzalez (Arg) 76 79,

158 J Garcia Pinto (Esp) 76 82,

159 S Henry  (Sco) 80 79, A Lguirati (am) (Mar) 80 79,

160 A Marjane  (Mar) 83 77, P Dedek (am) (Cze) 80 80,

161 T Levet (Fra) 83 78, J White (Eng) 75 86, R Dinwiddie  (Eng) 76 85,

162 D Brooks (Eng) 73 89,

165 R El Kharraz (Mar) 82 83,

** H Iwata (Jpn) RT  0,