Conor Purcell might be over 10,000 miles away from Dublin but has been no shortage of home comforts for him in Melbourne at this week’s ISPS HANDA Australian Open where he finds himself in contention heading into the final round.
Purcell is on six-under-par after a 66 and he trails the darling of Australia Adam Scott by five shots. Despite being on the other side of the world, it feels like a home event for the Portmarnock native who has carried an army of Purcell ultras throughout the first three days Down Under.
Delighted with his third round the 25-year-old stopped for a group snap with family and friends and he hopes to have even more to smile about on Sunday.
“I just have a good feeling every time I come to Australia there’s tons of Irish down here and loads of support which is great,” Purcell explains. “Today there were a good few people out watching.
Two guys on the right came in from St Kilda to watch with their Irish flag, two to my left are Ruth and Craig, they are an Irish couple from Sydney. Ruth let me stay in her house for the Aussie Open in 2019 so they kept in touch and the minute I qualified she booked a flight to come down so it’s great to have them.
“Mum and dad are to my right, my girlfriend Jessie is just to the right of them and my brother Gary (caddie this week) is further right with his extended family.
“It’s great to have all that support out and hopefully I can go and put on a good finish tomorrow, I am really looking forward to it.”
Purcell had to Monday qualify for this event having previously made an appearance in 2019 and it has certainly been a case of riding that momentum from a good round in the qualifier.
“I Monday qualified this week, I asked for an invite for the event but the best they said was they could give me an invite to the qualifier on the Monday. I had played the Monday Q course about four years ago the first time I was down here.
“I knew the course but I had been playing little to no golf over the last few weeks so I had very little expectation. I played lovely, bogey free to shoot three-under in the wind to qualify which was good as only top-2 got in.
“It’s definitely my last event of the year. I have planned some time off to stay down here in Australia for the winter.”
Purcell has taken advantage of his unexpected start and made a big move on Saturday. A blistering front nine with birdies on three, four and eight saw him race to the turn in 32 before dropping a shot on 10.
But the Dubliner remained patient and found some later birdies on 15 and 18 to climb into fifth place alongside Min Woo Lee, Haydn Barron and Josh Geary.
“It’s a tricky course, I’ve stayed patient all week and hit the ball really solid. I made a switch with my irons ( changed to Srixon ZX5s) and have hit some really good shots, stayed disciplined where I need to be and kept the ball in play which on these sand belt courses is key to scoring.”
At the top it’s 2013 Masters champion Scott by the minimum after he closed with an eagle for the second successive day to edge ahead of Irish Open champion Adrian Meronk.
Meanwhile in the G4D Tour, Brendan Lawlor is nine shots shy heading into the final round on seven-over after a 79. Canadian Kurtis Barkley leads on -2 after a 69.