McGee flies the flag alone as knockout kicks in at Andalucia

Ruaidhri McGee (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Ruaidhri McGee will be Ireland’s sole representative in the knockout rounds over the weekend as the cut to the leading 64 players was made at the Andalucia Costa Del Sol Match Play in Spain.

The 28-year old Rosapenna professional, who found form last week with a top-10 finish in France, recorded a much steadier even pair 71 today, trading a solitary birdie with a single bogey to ensure he advanced to the business end of the tournament in a share of 25th at minus-one.

Now the Team Ireland player can draw on his match play upbringing on golf courses across Ireland to put his best foot forward for the next two days in Malaga where he’ll look to really kickstart his season.

Meanwhile, a mid-round nightmare put paid to John Ross Galbraith’s chances of joining McGee after he had made a fine start to his second round.

The Whitehead professional had returned to the red for the week with two birdies in his first four holes but for a crippling run of four bogeys and a double through six holes from the 7th to derail any hopes of a weekend appearance; he eventually finished in a share of 75th at plus-four – just two shots outside the qualifying mark.

Unfortunately, there was no coming back for Tramore’s Robin Dawson either after a plus-five 76 on day one. The 23-year old left his best stuff at home this week, adding a 73 to his opening effort to finish well down the board at seven-over par.

Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez will go into the weekend as the number one seed after reaching five-under par following the conclusion of the 36-hole stroke play section of the event.

The field for the weekend’s match play was finalised late into the evening at Valle Romano Golf after 12 players finished in a tie for 54th spot on two-over par, meaning they all returned to the ninth tee to fight for the final 11 spots.

Spaniard Garcia Rodriguez will go into the weekend as the number one ranked player in the event after today’s four under par second round in which he bounced back from an early triple bogey on the second with an eagle on the par five eighth and a four under par, bogey-free back nine.

“I didn’t hit a bad shot on the second hole but I hit it three or four metres left of the green and I couldn’t find the ball,” he said. “I played so well in the rest of the round and I was very consistent both with the driver and iron from the tee box.

“The key today was the second shot because the wind was so strong. It made me hit two or three clubs more than I usually would, it’s amazing. I think today was the best I’ve ever played in these conditions.

“My problem is my concentration, it’s not the wind. I just need to make sure I have a good swing with good rhythm.

“I thought level par would be good today, but I hit three or four good putts which got me a good score.”

The format now changes from stroke play as the final two days will see the remaining 64 players take part in a series of nine-hole battles but the 30-year-old is not concerned by the change, instead focussing on his own mindset.

“For me, it will be the same at the weekend,” he said. “I need to worry about me because the conditions are still the same for all the players.

“I haven’t played match play as a professional. I played in the British Amateur and European Team Championships a long time ago. It’s been about eight years.”

England’s Ryan Evans will be the second seed after a stunning seven under par 64 – the lowest round of the day – tied the course record and saw him jump 75 places up the leaderboard into a tie for second on four under par.

The final 11 spots were decided by a play-off with 12 players returning to the par three ninth hole. Filip Mruzek, Nick McCarthy, Rasmus Højgaard, Thomas Linard, Damien Perrier, Chase Koepka and Antoine Schwartz – who birdied the final hole of regulation play to ensure there would be a play-off – all progressed through following the first extra hole.

Joel Stalter safely made it through after a birdie at the second extra hole, while Felipe Aguilar’s par putt lipped out on the third play-off hole, meaning threes for Francesco Laporta and Juan Sarasti were enough for them to tee it up in tomorrow’s match play section.

The round of 64 will begin at 7.30am local time tomorrow. The round of 32 and round of 16 will also take place on the third day of the tournament.

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