Purcell beats the fog and boosts Grand Final hopes with 67

Ronan MacNamara

Conor Purcell (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Conor Purcell shone once the fog cleared at the English Trophy as he boosted his Road to Mallorca hopes with an excellent opening round of 67. 

It was a blistering back nine of 32 that helped the 25-year-old to five-under-par and a share of 11th place after his morning tee time was delayed by two hours due to some dense fog at Frilford Heath. 

The Portmarnock man started quickly with a birdie on the par-3 4th before an eagle on the par-5 6th. He let a couple of shots slip before the turn but a flawless back nine including birdies on the tenth, twelfth, fifteenth and eighteenth have him just three shots shy of Daniel Young and Filip Mruzek at the time of writing. 

“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,” said Purcell who hopes he got the right side of the draw with the delayed tee times. 

“It’s nicer when it’s in the morning. I’ve been in the afternoon wave a couple of times where it’s happened and it’s a much longer day but at least I’ll be ready for tomorrow. We know it’s going to be a late one and we probably won’t get finished but a morning tee time isn’t the worst to be delayed. 

“I could have slept in for a bit longer!” 

It could be a very long time before the Dubliner hits another shot in the final regular Challenge Tour event of the season. 

Having only secured an invite on Sunday after a ninth place finish last week, Purcell entered the week 64th in the Challenge Tour rankings with the top-45 progressing to the Grand Final. 

While it is an unexpected opportunity, there could be huge rewards for Purcell who can secure limited Challenge Tour status (outside top-70), a full Challenge Tour card (inside top-70), or a place in the Grand Final (top-45). 

“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 says.

“I feel a lot better the last month. I was struggling a little bit in the middle of the summer just overcomplicating things so I’ve been getting back to basics and trying to enjoy it as much as possible.” 

2019 Amateur champion James Sugrue put on a stirring finish with two birdies in his last three holes to battle to a one-under 71. 

The Mallow native was slow to get going with three bogeys in his opening five holes before a birdie on the 6th saw him turn in 38. The 25-year-old strung together a very encouraging back nine of 33 with birdies on ten, 16 and 18. 

DP World Tour promotion hopeful Tom McKibbin is one-under after three holes while Ruaidhri McGee is level through six, with Gavin Moynihan two-over through six.

John Murphy – the only other Irishman inside the top-45 in the Road to Mallorca – is just getting underway knowing he won’t get finished this evening. 

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