McGee and Purcell roar out of the traps in Port Elizabeth

Ronan MacNamara

Ruaidhri McGee (Image: Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Ruaidhri McGee and Conor Purcell capitalised on perfect conditions to get their Nelson Mandela Bay Championship off to a flying start in Port Elizabeth.

Derry’s McGee lies in a share of eighth place after a blemish free six-under 66 while Portmarnock’s Purcell is a shot further back in 21st place after a hot scoring day in South Africa.

McGee kick-started his round with a superb eagle on the par-5 7th after opening with six successive pars. A birdie on 9 saw him skip to the turn in 32 and he continued in a similar fashion on his way home.

Birdies on 12, 15 and 17 saw the 32-year-old home in 34 and he trails Sweden’s Adam Blomme by three shots.

Golf is a bizarre game, despite not feeling good with his long game, Purcell managed to card a five-under 67 as he continues his fine form in South Africa and proves last week’s missed cut was only a blip.

The 25-year-old opened with five straight pars before a hat trick of birdies kicked him into gear. Birdies on 2 and 4 followed as he headed for the clubhouse and after dropping one on the sixth, he recovered with a sixth birdie of the day on 8.

“It was perfect conditions this morning, I think it’s rare not to get much wind out here and yeah, everyone in our group at least capitalised on that and it was a good day,” said Purcell.

“Visually it feels very links, around the greens not so much but the bunkers are links sand and similar to home. It’s a bit more through the air, you’re not really running balls as much but it’s a good test and when the wind blows it will be a different beast.

“Putting was really strong, I’m actually feeling really uncomfortable over the ball. Today was funny, I just tried to stay patient and give myself chances and putting was very good and hopefully we can continue it.

“I had heard a lot of good things about the place and it lived up to expectations.”

Greystones man Paul Dunne is making his first appearance of the season and he started solidly with a two-under 70.

Swede Blomme carded an eagle, eight birdies and a single bogey as he moved to the top of the leaderboard, one clear of South African Pieter Moolman who is second on eight-under par.

The 26-year-old, who currently sits in pole position on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, was delighted to take advantage of the benign early morning conditions in Port Elizabeth.

“I got lucky with my tee time this morning,” he said. “There was hardly any wind through my front nine and then it started to pick up as I finished.

“It felt great to continue my good form today and it was nice to make a few putts too. I tried to keep the ball in play, hit the greens and then hopefully hole some putts.”

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