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Price leads; Manassero keeps Masters bid alive in Morocco

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AGADIR, Morocco – Welshman Phillip Price is on track to end a nine-year winless drought after taking a one-stroke lead in the weather-affected Hassan II Trophy in Morocco on Friday.

Strong winds and intermittent thunder meant a five-and-a-half hour delay to the start of the second round with play eventually getting under way at 1 p.m. local time.

Price, who had been due to tee off in the first group at 7:30 a.m., made the best of the delay with a 6-under 66 round that included six birdies, among them three in succession on holes 15 through 17.

Price moved to 10 under, ending his round 20 minutes before first-round leader Damien McGrane began his second at 7 under.

“I was delighted with that today and I was very surprised by how calm it became throughout the day after this morning,” said Price. “It was really windy when we started so to go out there and shoot 6 under is really pleasing.”

Price, who started his day with a 5:25 a.m. alarm call ahead of an early scheduled tee time, was turned away three times as the tournament start was repeatedly postponed with winds gusting to about 30 mph.

“It was very frustrating to go to the tee three times and not be allowed to tee off because it is difficult to get yourself in the right mood and then be called off,” said Price.

“By the time we got to the tee at one I wasn’t sure if we were going to be allowed to go, but thankfully it died down and, as I said, I managed to play very well.”

Price last won a tournament at the 2003 European Open in Ireland.

Spain’s Jose Manuel Lara recorded a 65 to move into second place at 9 under, one ahead of Sweden’s Joakim Sjolholm who signed for a 66 for an 8 under total.

McGrane managed to finish just five holes when poor light halted play. He stayed at 7 under.

Matteo Manassero kept alive his hopes of qualifying for the Masters after carding a 70 to move into a share of ninth place at 5 under.

The 18-year old Italian has to win the Moroccan event to have any chance of making his professional debut at Augusta National.