Conor Purcell, Ruaidhri McGee and Paul Dunne will round off the Challenge Tour’s South African swing at the blustery Nelson Mandela Bay Championship.
Purcell is looking to prove that last week’s missed cut at the SDC Open was just a blip in what has been an excellent run of form while McGee will be hoping he can end a mixed start to the season on a high as Dunne makes his first appearance of the season before the Challenge Tour breaks for a month.
Purcell has started the season well with finishes of 7th and 6th en route to 9th in the Road to Mallorca Rankings. The Challenge in Humewood Golf Club in Port Elizabeth will be akin to what he has grown up on and the Portmarnock native is relishing the conditions.
Holing momentum putts will be pivotal to staying near the top of the leaderboard this week the 25-year-old says.
“I feel like I’m definitely getting closer to home, it’s a bit more linksy by the sea and the wind is blowing this week so a similar feel to home which is nice.
“There are some days where it’s going to blow hard and some where it won’t so it’s just kind of getting used to hitting shots in the wind, I think the last few weeks have been relatively calm for us so just getting used to different shots and not getting too fixated on numbers and stuff like that.
“It’s been very different, each city has it’s own different traits and last week it was a lot different it felt like a different country and this week it feels closer to home, doesn’t feel like South Africa.
“When the wind blows it’s going to be important to hole those momentum putts, five or six footers for par. I think we will be missing a few more greens than normal this week.
“The greens do seem long but big surfaces and putting is always key especially when the wind blows.”
Purcell has been in fine form of late with four top-5 finishes in his last five starts either side of the new year. The Dubliner spent the winter in Australia fine tuning his game for the start of the Challenge Tour season which included Monday qualifying for the Australian Open which he secured a career-high 7th place finish on the DP World Tour.
His hard work has paid off so far but he is determined to keep the head down.
“Over the winter I tried to focus on a few more fundamental things and it’s nice to see that carry over and in tournament conditions you hope it performs well so it’s been good.
“It’s about starting the week fresh and not having too many expectations. If you start the first few weeks well you’re hoping to continue that form but not trying to over emphasise, the form going the exact same is hard so it’s about a fresh slate and giving each thing your best and go from there.”
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