Niall Kearney signed for six birdies in a timely return to form that sees him sit just one shot off the pace heading into round two today at the PDC Championship at Studley Wood Golf Club.
The Royal Dublin professional has endured a disappointing year this term but rediscovered some EuroPro form in a four-under par round of 69 that has him well placed in a tie for second with 36-holes to play.
Meanwhile Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell’s bid to break into the top-5 on the Order of Merit standings were given a boost by a fine three-under par round of 70. Caldwell fired four birdies to sit at minus-three overnight as he seeks Challenge Tour graduation for next season.
Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy was the only other Irish player to manage parity or better after returning an even par 73 while Castlebar’s Declan Loftus is a shot further back at plus-one alongside Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith and Old Conna’s Neil O’Briain.#
At the head of affairs, Ben Ferguson leads The PDC Championship heading into day two in Oxfordshire. Ferguson (The Vines) opened his week with a round of 68 (-5) to take the clubhouse lead with Declan Illingsworth, Corey Sheppard, Bradley Cox, Nick Marsh, and Kearney one shot back on four-under.
Ferguson said: “It was good. It was very tricky, very windy. The course was already firm and it just seems to be getting firmer as kind of the day goes on so very pleased with five under.”
On a day where wind dictated play, a tough test became even harder as it swirled around the course making all but one of the par 5s into heavy gusts which caused plenty of problems. Sheppard (High Post Golf Club) carded four birdies and an eagle for 69 (-4) whilst Illingsworth (Formby Golf Club) was bogey-free on his front nine for 32 and level on his back nine.
Cox (Golfcatcher.net) made the most of the par 5s with four birdies made out of a possible five giving him a share for second along with Marsh (Huddersfield Golf Club) who found his feet on the back nine checking out on 32 (-5) recovering from one over on the front.
John Parry (Harrogate Golf Club), Marco Penge (Golf at Goodwood), Caldwell (Clandeyboye Golf Club), Andrew Wilson (Rockliffe Hall), Jamie Dick (Forest Hills Golf Club) and Michael Bullen (Goring Electrical Services) are all tied for sixth after opening rounds of 70 (-3).
Conditions are expected to be very much the same on day two with heavy winds being the tale of the day ahead the penultimate cut of the season looming.
An indicator of how tricky the course has played today comes with the scoring, only thirty-seven players are currently under par. What’s Next? As mentioned, the cut will be made tomorrow to the leading fifty players plus ties before a final round on Friday.
Full scoring HERE