Rice heads Irish raiders after opening 67 on EuroPro


Tim Rice (Photo by Richard Martin-Roberts/Getty Images for PGA)

Limerick’s Tim Rice continued his fine form of the past few weeks with five birdies in a bogey-free 67 to head the Irish challenge after day one at Castletown Golf Links.

Rice, who completed a hat-trick of wins on the Irish region with victory at the Synergy Golf Pro-Am at St Margaret’s Golf and Country Club last week, sits in a tie for 15th at five-under par, seven strokes back of leader Billy McKenzie who posted a stunning opening 60 to head the field by one at minus-12.

K Club professional Conor O’Rourke is next best of the Irish after posting six birdies in a superb 68, leaving him in a tie for 27th at four-under. Cork’s John Hickey, Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan and Brian Jnr McCormack were all at two-under after solid 70’s on day one while Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith was at even par.

Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy, who sits fourth spot on the Order of Merit where the top-5 will earn a Challenge Tour card for next season, has work to do after only managing a two-over 74.

At the top, McKenzie (Rowlands Castle Golf Club) went out in 30 going birdie, birdie, eagle, and birdie to start the round before finishing with four birdies on the bounce to assert his dominance on the field and lead by one.

Benjamin Jones (Northamptonshire County GC) was next best and provided another stunning round of golf that has been so common of late on the tour, signing for a 61 (-11) on a card that had included a bogey on the 11th. Jones still managed to come in for 29 despite the slip-up indicating just how solid of a first round it was.

Kilmacolm Golf Club’s Robbie Morrison has found his feet on the Tour of late and continued to trend in the right direction weighing in with a nine under par round for 63 in a bogey-free opener to the week.

Conditions were picture perfect for the Tour’s first visit to Castletown since 2002 and it showed in the scoring with four at eight under par. James Allan (Chelmsford Golf Club) has threatened the top end of the leaderboard and moved in the right direction bogey-free. Matty Lamb (Trinifold Sports), Callum Fyfe (Trinifold Sports), and Josh Hilleard (Golfing4Life) also joined Allan with opening rounds of 64 (-8).

Tom Sloman (Trinifold Sports) and Joshua Grenville-Wood (The Els Club, Dubai) both find themselves five strokes off the lead after shooting opening rounds of 65 (-7).

It was a good day for the Isle of Man amateur duo of Jon Corke and Daryl Callister who shot four and three under respectively on their home track to sit above the cut line as it stands. Corke with birdies at one, three, and eight to start with a huge bounce of momentum.

With it being the last tournament of the regular season, stakes are high with only the top 60 making it through to the Tour Championship in October at Slaley Hall. Who will make it and who will have to head back to Q School?

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