John Murphy was the only Irishman to make it into the weekend at the Dormy Open on the Challenge Tour as several players suffered tough weeks in their bid to move up the Road to Mallorca standings.
The Kinsale man had a strong finish to his round with three birdies in his last six holes in a round that also included four consecutive birdies around the turn to card a four-under 68 to reach the same score for the tournament.
Murphy is targeting a big finish at Österåkers Golfklubb in Stockholm as he looks to improve his own chances of securing a DP World Tour card for next season, the 24-year-old currently 29th in the standings needing to move into the top-20 by the end of the season.
If he is to win this week, however, he will have to overcome Finland’s Lauri’s Ruuska who maintained his lead heading into the weekend, a three-under 69 taking him up to 11-under-par and two shots clear of the pack.
The 28-year-old, who is going for his first Challenge Tour win, had five birdies and a double-bogey in his second round to hold off the challenge of Wales’ Stuart Manley – whose 68 moved him up to nine-under – and stay ahead.
“I played really solid apart from one bad hole. I started with a birdie, which was nice, before adding two more birdies on six and seven, but on the ninth I hit a couple in the water and made double-bogey,” he explained.
“Luckily, I managed to regroup and get those shots back with a couple of birdies on the back nine. I’m in a great position heading into the weekend.”
However, while Murphy was improving his chances of moving into the top-20, the other three Irish players suffered blows to their promotion hopes as they failed to make the cut in Sweden.
Paul McBride will be devastated to miss out on the weekend after starting so promisingly with a 67, but a wild round featuring three double-bogeys, three bogeys, two birdies and an eagle all added up to a second round 77 and at level-par, he was one shot too many.
Holywood’s Tom McKibbin, who is 15th in the Road to Mallorca, had four costly bogeys on his back nine in a two-over 74 as he finished three-over-par overall, while 33rd-placed Ruaidhri McGee finished double-bogey, bogey to sign for a 76 and end the week four-over.