Conor Purcell leads the Irish charge at the English Trophy presented by Rocket Yard Sports Marketing after the opening round was suspended due to darkness in Frilford Heath.
Purcell was one of the morning starters so he can look forward to a very late tee time on Friday with the knowledge he probably won’t get finished.
Play was delayed by two hours due to dense morning fog but Purcell made up for lost time with a fine round of 67 to move to five-under and three off the pace.
Kinsale’s John Murphy who teed off at 4pm got off to an electric start and will resume from the 7th tee at four-under-par.
The 24-year-old is in a share of 17th place and having teed off in 42nd on the Road to Mallorca Rankings with the top-45 advancing to next month’s Grand Final he is remarkably projected to fall a place to 43rd.
Derry’s Ruaidhri McGee came into the final regular Challenge Tour event of the season one place outside the cut for the Grand Final and he will complete the final three holes of his opening round from three-under before facing a quick turnaround into round two.
Holywood’s Tom McKibbin is looking towards DP World Tour promotion and he managed to complete nine holes in two-under-par.
James Sugrue battled back from three-over to shoot a one-under 71 while Gavin Moynihan is propping up the leaderboard on four-over through 12 holes.
Portmarnock’s Purcell might only get nine holes in of his second round on Friday but he has boosted his Grand Final hopes.
Having earned an invite courtesy of last week’s top-10 the 64th ranked player in the rankings has many permutations surrounding him this week.
Remain in the top-70 and he will earn a categorical Challenge Tour card for 2023, make the Grand Final and he will earn a full Challenge Tour card with the potential for DP World Tour promotion in Mallorca.
It is somewhat of a free hit for the Portmarnock man but he is hoping to take his chances.
“It was good. A bit of a delay starting out so I was very eager to get going. I played solid all day, couple of mistakes but happy enough.
“The course tests different parts of your game. Most of the par fives are good chances so you kind of need to take your chances and there are a couple of really tricky holes where you need to take four and run so I did that and I’m happy.
“It’s not a free week but it feels like I can push as much as I can to try and have a high finish to make Mallorca. If not, we have Second Stage of Q-School to play so the season isn’t fully done so just trying to finish strong and see where it leaves me,” he added.
Daniel Young and Filip Mruzek both birdied their final three holes to claim a share of the lead on eight under par.
Mruzek needs to secure victory in order to extend his season and has given himself the best chance to do so after dropping only one shot on the opening day.
“Eight under ties my record on the Challenge Tour from Belgium in 2019 so I’m happy, I’m pleased. Nine birdies, one bogey, it’s a nice start,” he said.
“I struggled the first three or four holes off the tee, I didn’t feel that comfortable with the fog, I couldn’t swing with the rhythm I wanted, but I had 25 putts and I think I hold five putts from five metres which is a help on this golf course. It was a good day.
“Mallorca is my goal because the season hasn’t been as good as I’d wished. The only chance to get there is to win, so I’ll do my best, it’s going to be tough because there are good players here but it’s a good start and we’ll see.”
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