With four of Ireland’s five Walker Cup panellists contesting this week’s Brabazon Trophy at Alwoodley Golf Club, there was no shortage of interest from this side of the Irish sea.
Caolan Rafferty continued his sound form of 2019 to open with a one-under par 71. The Dundlak star carded four birdies to sit just inside the top-10 in Leeds.
The man Rafferty bested at the West of Ireland in April, Conor Purcell, endured a frustrating back nine after racing to the turn in 32 this morning.
The 21-year old from Portmarnock was five-under and bogey-free through 12 special holes but doubled 13, bogeyed 14 and then doubled 18 in a deflating finish that unravelled his earlier good work – he sits in a share of 22nd at even par.
Mallow’s James Sugrue was going along nicely having made four birdies in an outward half of 34. However, two dropped shots at 10 and 11 halted the momentum with Sugrue dropping one more on the way home before eventually signing for a 73.
Kinsale’s John Murphy also returned a one-over par 73 in his first appearance of the season on this side of the Atlantic after completing his second year at the University of Louisville.
That was the same number as Ireland international Rowan Lester from Hermitage who traded two birdies with three bogeys in a solid start with the Irish trio just inside the top-40 after day one.
The English Stroke Play Championship is among the most prestigious titles in the amateur game and the prize to the winner is even more valuable in the year of a Walker Cup. Played over 72 holes, the top-60 and ties progress after Friday’s 36-hole cut.
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