McKibbin, Murphy and Purcell in the mix at English Trophy

Ronan MacNamara

Conor Purcell (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Tom McKibbin and John Murphy are both firmly in the hunt at the halfway stage of the English Trophy presented Rocket Yard Sports Marketing. 

Both players are four shots shy of Ugo Coussaud on nine-under-par after rounds of 66 and 67 respectively. 

Conor Purcell will return to complete his second round at Frilford Heath from seven-under-par with six holes to play with the Portmarnock man two-under for his round. 

McKibbin and Murphy had to complete their opening rounds after day one was disrupted by a two-hour fog delay. 

McKibbin played twenty six holes on Friday and he can look forward to a late tee-time on Saturday. 

The Holywood teenager carded seven birdies and just one dropped shot in his second round after only getting a 20-minute break in between rounds. 

A birdie on 18 and a birdie on the tenth – his first of round two – maintained his momentum and he added further gains on 13, 17, 18, 2, 6 and 8 with his only dropped shot coming on the seventh. 

It’s a big week for McKibbin who can cement his place in the top-20 on the Challenge Tour rankings ahead of the Road to Mallorca Grand Final next month as his DP World Tour promotion bid reaches its climax. 

The 19-year-old is delighted with his opening 36 holes and feels the quick turnaround benefited him. 

“In a good way you sort of didn’t get to cool down but it was a lot of golf so it was handy enough,” he said. “I birdied the last of the first round and that boosted me heading into the second round at three under. The tenth which I started on is a par-5 so the way I finished and the way I started was good for keeping momentum.  

“The greens are rolling so nice it’s a great track, it’s scoreable judging by some of the scores out there but you definitely have to play well to shoot those scores.” 

Murphy is on course to remain in the top-45 and advance to the Grand final after a rare bogey-free round. 

It’s a timely return to form for the Kinsale native who came into the week following four missed cuts in six starts but feels some hard yards with his coach ian Stafford on site has given him some renewed confidence with the putter. 

“Staying patient is crucial out there. It’s a course that provides you with a lot of chances but you still have to play well and go and do it. I felt very in control of my game especially after the last couple of weeks being very disappointing, it was nice to get a couple of good days work in with my coach Ian and feel comfortable and get into the right frame of mind. 

“Having Ian over is always good. To be honest it’s just maintenance it’s never anything major that gets out of sync it’s normally something really small that he can point out easily. I struggled with the putter the last couple of weeks so it was nice to feel comfortable with that. Rolled in a few decent ones which always helps.” 

Ruaidhri McGee faces an anxious wait to see if his season will continue after back-to-back rounds of 70 left him one shot outside the cut line on four-under-par. 

The Derry native entered the week 46th – one place outside the top-45. 

Gavin Moynihan shot a much improved three-under 69 but it was not enough for him to make the cut and he bows out on two-over. 

Mallow man James Sugrue withdrew. 


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