John Murphy has positioned himself nicely in his bid to win his first Challenge Tour title as he will head into the weekend at the Big Green Egg German Challenge three shots off the lead.
The Kinsale man tied the low round of the day as he picked up seven birdies and one bogey in a six-under 66 at Wittelsbacher Golfclub in Neuburg an der Donau to move up to seven-under-par for the tournament.
That has him three back of leaders Mateusz Gradecki, Manuel Elvira and Alejandro del Rey, who set the pace at the midway point of the tournament at 10-under-par.
Del Rey’s round in particular was incredible as he triple-bogeyed his first hole but proceeded to bounce back with an eagle and seven birdies to match Murphy’s 66 and sit atop the leaderboard.
“I couldn’t have got off to a worse start!” laughed the Spaniard. “I wasn’t nervous or anything, it was just a bad swing on a tough hole. I had to mentally reset with a couple of pars and then I started to make birdies.
“I knew I had to take advantage of the holes on the back nine because there are some tough tee shots on the front nine. If you are out of position then it is really difficult to make birdie.
“It’s so important for me to build on this good start because it’s so tough out here on the Challenge Tour. You can be playing good golf but it really doesn’t matter unless you are finishing high up on the leaderboard. Tomorrow is a big day and hopefully it’s a good weekend for me.”
Poland’s Gradecki fired a four-under 68 and Elvira, also a Spaniard, carded a three-under 69 to join Del Rey at the top, with the trio one shot clear of Slovakia’s Tadeáš Tetak, the first round leader adding a 71 to sit nine-under-par.
Galgorm’s Tom McKibbin will be disappointed with five bogeys and four birdies in a one-over 73 that drops him back to four-under-par and into a share of 20th heading into the weekend, but he is still in a decent position.
Ruaidhri McGee and Dermot McElroy also made the cut at three-under-par, three birdies and two bogeys leading to a 71 for McGee, while three birdies and a bogey made up a 70 for McElroy.
It wasn’t to be for Charlie Williams, though, as an eagle and two birdies were offset by four bogeys and a double-bogey in an eventful 74 to finish two-over-par and four shots off the two-under cut mark.
Conor Purcell also wasn’t able to make it into the third and fourth rounds as a five-over 77 dropped him back to seven-over-par for the tournament.
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