The Irish duo of Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan will need something special on Friday if they’re to avoid forfeiting full European Tour membership after indifferent opening rounds at the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura.
Dunne is projected to drop a further six places to 124th on the Race to Dubai after posting a disappointing level par 71, a shot more than Belfast’s Michael Hoey on the Dom Pedro Victoria course.
The Greystones golfer was three-under par with just three holes to play before a disastrous double-bogey at 7, his 16th was compounded by another dropped shot at the last, undoing all the good work that came before.
The effort left Dunne sharing 76th place with much more needed on Friday to avoid a 12th missed cut in his last 14 events.
Also not assisting Dunne’s cause is a handful of players lying behind the Irishman on the Race to Dubai who are currently well ahead of him after the opening day’s play on the Algarve.
They include South African Darren Fichardt and American Shirwan Kim, ranked a respective 123rd and 126th on the money list, who posted 66s to be sharing fifth place while England’s Jack Singh Brar, the player lying in the dreaded 117th place, shot a 67 for a projected jump to 111th.
The top-117 at the close of the Portuguese event will retain full 2020 Tour membership.
Meanwhile Moynihan, coming off a Tour career high of a share of fifth in last week’s Open de France, is also set to head ‘south’ on the Race to Dubai and drop four places to 144th after signing for a three-over 74 on day one.
To expect Moynihan to fire another career-best finish in as many weeks was always going to be a big ask but he’ll hope to conjure some Friday magic to at least give himself a chance over the weekend.
South African Louis De Jager heads the Euro 1.5m event by two strokes thanks to a sizzling eight-under par 63.
“I made a few nice putts in the beginning and then really hit it well towards the end and kept the momentum going,” he said. “The greens are very good, they are really fast. I felt comfortable. I left myself in the right spots on the greens, on the right plateaus, which made it much easier. There are some tricky putts on those greens, but I kept it easy for myself today.
“I think everyone is more conscious of where they are (on the Race to Dubai Rankings). My back is against the wall a little bit, for me I can only going forward. I’m using that as extra motivation and encouragement – not that you need it, but that did help a little bit.”
Padraig Harrington, winner of the Portugal event in 2016, dropped five shots in a four-hole stretch from the seventh hole, then birdied 14 and 17 to sign for a two-over par 73.
Full scoring HERE