O’Rourke rumbles into weekend with superb 69 at Czech Challenge

John Craven
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O’Rourke rumbles into weekend with superb 69 at Czech Challenge

Conor O'Rourke (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Naas professional Conor O’Rourke will fly the flag for Ireland over the weekend in Dříteč after a three-under par 69 ensured his safe passage to a payday at the D+D REAL Czech Challenge.

The 29-year old came into the event after enjoying all four rounds at last week’s Irish Challenge in Dublin and he’s now set to bank more competitive action having seen his playing schedule decimated by covid-19 over the past number of months.

Far from just seeking playing time, however, O’Rourke is nicely placed inside the top-30 at four-under par after firing four birdies on Friday at Golf & Spa Resort Kunětická Hora. Eight shots back of the leaders, it will take a mammoth effort for the Kildare man to contend over the weekend but he’s well on his way to bettering his top-50 finish at Portmarnock Links as O’Rourke looks to make the most of his Challenge Tour starts.

It was an otherwise disappointing two days for Ireland’s traveling quartet with Michael Hoey, whose hopes would’ve been high after a seventh place finish in Dublin, missing the cut by three strokes at one-over par. Paul McBride (+6) and Robin Dawson (+4) also missed out on the halfway mark, though the latter can take some heart from a one-under 71 on Friday to close out his tournament.

At the top, Christofer Blomstrand equalled Brooks Koepka’s eight year old course record with a 10-under par round of 62 to leap into a share of the lead at Golf & Spa Resort Kunìtická Hora. The Swede topped the leaderboard at 12 under par after round two alongside Spaniard Alfredo Garcia-Heredia, who continued his fine form with an eight under par 64, following his third place finish at last week’s Irish Challenge.

Blomstrand is looking for more of the same over the weekend after he matched the total set by four-time Major winner Koepka during the final round of this event in 2013. The 29-year-old has been improving on every Challenge Tour event this season after most recently securing 10th place at the Dormy Open in Sweden, as he goes in search of his maiden win following runner up spots at the 2020 Challenge Tour Grand Final and at the Porsche European Open on the European Tour in 2018.

“Yes, I played really great today, I managed to holee some putts as well,” he said. “I played quite good in the beginning, and I was four under through five. I dropped one on the next but I managed to hit a five iron up to four metres on the seventh, which I holed out for an eagle and then I made birdie on the ninth so I was six under through nine.”

“Sometimes you see the lines and it felt quite good,” he said. “That’s just golf, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow.

“I would like to try and do the same thing as I’ve done today, and we’ll see how I end up.”

Denmark’s Niklas Nørgaard Møller, Norway’s Kristian Krogh Johannessen, Julien Brun of France, and Germany’s Jonas Kölbing are three shots off the lead at nine under par, while  Robbie Van West of The Netherlands and Finland’s Roope Kakko share seventh place on eight under par.

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