Frenchman Antoine Rozner joined a three-way tie for the lead going into the weekend of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open as he seeks to claim a title that he was denied in a playoff the last time it was played in 2019.
On a windy day that brought out a completely different side to the Mont Choisy Le Golf course, Rozner signed for a sublime 64 to share the lead with Finland’s Sami Välimäki and Spain’s Alfredo Garcia-Heredia on 10 under par. Välimäki, who set the course record with a 62 in the first round, was frustrated with his second round 72, while Garcia-Heredia posted a solid 66 to join the leaders.
They are all one stroke clear of South Africa’s Oliver Bekker, who carded a 71 on Friday.
Rozner was understandably delighted with his performance on a very tricky day.
“I think this is one of the first times in my career where I am happy with every single score on every hole. That doesn’t happen a lot. I don’t think I could score any better on this golf course today,” said the man who in 2019 lost in a playoff to Rasmus Højgaard but who returns as a vastly different golfer with two DP World Tour victories since then.
“It was tricky and tough out there, so I’m really pleased with the way I played. I always missed on the right side and my chipping was great as well. It was tough, especially with the side winds. You had to aim so far right and left with those winds. My putting was also very solid. I’m happy with everything.”
Mauritius certainly suits Rozner and he’s relishing how the island enhances his game. “I like this place. Once you’re off the course you completely disconnect and cannot think about golf. That suits me well.”
Välimäki didn’t get what he was hoping for from his second round and felt his putter was to blame. “It was pretty bad really. We made four easy mistakes and couldn’t make any putts. I just didn’t make putts and had bad chips. I’m still playing good golf but I just need to make those birdies,” he said.
And Garcia-Heredia was thrilled to share the lead as he looks to match the big-game fishing success he’s had on the island by hooking a trophy as well this week.
“I am loving the fishing in Mauritius. The fishing always relaxes me. I’ve caught sea trout, barracuda, a 40kg tuna, kingfish and a few others. Now I have to play some golf. But I enjoyed it a lot out there. It was fun. It was windy, but it was a fair wind. It was always from the same direction, so you just had to adjust for the intensity of the wind. I’m pretty much happy with everything in my game at the moment. I played really solid these first two rounds. I went to see a putting coach because last year wasn’t good, and my putting has improved a lot. I have a good local caddie this week and he knows the greens, so I’m following his advice and it’s going well.”
The 2022 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open has also drawn a glittering array of blue-chip sponsors including Beachcomber Resorts & Hotels, Mont Choisy Group, Jaguar, Rogers, Heritage Resorts, IBL, the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA), 3G Mobile, Phoenix Beverages, Air Mauritius, Mautourco, Fenix XCell Apparel, Hertz, Jacobs, C-Care, Emtel, PRO CARTS, IT Solvz, Häagen-Dazs and Dragon Electronics.