Ruaidhri McGee motored into gear with a four-under par 67 to head the Irish charge on day one of the Le Vaudrieul Golf Challenge in France.
With much of the focus this week on Cormac Sharvin and Robin Dawson who returned to Challenge Tour duty from the heights of glowing displays at Lahinch’s Irish Open, it was the Rosapenna professional that went in under the radar to produce six birdies in a superb opening effort.
Four-under all told, the 28-year old finds himself in a share of fifth spot, just three behind Frenchman Robin Sciot-Siegrist and England’s Steven Tidy who lead at minus-seven after hugely encouraging opening day for performances.
As for Dawson and Sharvin, returning the spikes to earth was always going to prove tricky but the pair applied themselves quite well despite quiet starts.
Tramore pro Dawson returned parity after a mixed bag of four birdies and four bogeys saw him finish just inside the top-50 after day one while Sharvin recovered from being three-over par through six holes to eventually carded a plus-one 72 with the pair’s championship hopes still very much alive.
Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Michael Hoey (80) and Paul McBride (83) after dismal opening rounds.
With minus-seven out in front, there’s a ton of European Tour experience in behind the leaders with home favourites, Gregory Bourdy and Gregory Havret at minus-six and minus-five respectively.
Havret hasn’t tasted victory since winning the Jonnie Walker Classic in 2008 but the 42-year old is hoping that should his chance arrive come Sunday, he’ll be ready to take it.
“I would be very, very happy to win, especially on French soil,” he said. “I haven’t won since 2008 on the European Tour, and that was a long time ago.
“The winning feeling is amazing wherever you win; whether it’s a big or small event on the European Tour or a victory on the Challenge Tour. It’s a fantastic accomplishment where you feel very proud and it means your work is going in the right direction.
“There are plenty of tournaments in the second part of the season and I’m sure I am going to have a chance to do well in a few of them. I think you need to get a win or to get lots of top ten finishes in order to graduate at the end of the year, either way you will need to play really well. Hopefully in the next ten or 12 tournaments I will get my chance which will be very important to take.”
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