It was a solid but unspectacular opening day for the Irish contingent on the MENA Tour’s Blue Canyon Open, with all three of Kevin Phelan, Robin Dawson and Conor O’Rourke left in the middle of the pack in Phuket, Thailand.
Phelan was the best of the three as he carded a one-under 71 at the Canyon Course at Blue Canyon Country Club – which is hosting back-to-back events on Tour this week – with Dawson one shot further back after a 72 and O’Rourke two shots more following a 74.
It leaves them trailing in the wake of leader Suttijet Kooratanapisan, whose eight-under 64 has him one shot clear of America’s Dodge Kemmer, with former Challenge Tour winner Victor Riu sitting at six-under.
Phelan will rue a poor finish to his round as back-to-back bogeys dropped him from a position where he could have pushed on after a tidy round of four birdies and one bogey into one where he dropped down into the middle of the pack.
It was a day where Dawson struggled to get any momentum going as his birdies at the sixth and 13th were cancelled out by bogeys at the seventh and 16th, meaning he was never any better than one-under-par, and will hope to get his scoring going on day two.
The same will apply to O’Rourke, who needs a good day to stick around for Friday’s final round as mistakes cost him dearly, four bogeys and a double-bogey harming him despite scoring four birdies on day one.
At the top, Kooratanapisan had two eagles in his 64 to move clear at the top, one ahead of Kemmer, who had eight birdies in his round but was denied a share of the early lead by one bogey.
Riu poses a very real threat as seven birdies – five of which came in his final seven holes – contributed to a six-under 66 at Blue Canyon, a score matched by Thailand’s Settee Prakongvech.
- Full scoring HERE