Six Irish players are among the impressively strong field who’ll take to the fairways of Karnataka Golf Association’s Championship Course in Bangalore in southern India for the Duncan Taylor Black Bull Challenge.
Dermot McElroy, John Murphy, Ruaidhri McGee, Conor Purcell and Niall Kearney will be joined by Castle amateur Robert Moran for the first of back-to-back Challenge Tour events at Karnataka as the tour moves back to the Northern Hemisphere.
McElroy and Kearney will make their season debuts in Bangalore, with the former having graduated from the Alps Tour last season and the latter dropping back to the Challenge circuit after a frustrating year on the DP World Tour.
Murphy will also be making his first Challenge Tour start of the year after struggling to recapture the form that saw him earn his DP World Tour card through Q-School last November, and is searching for the spark that will reignite his season.
McGee and Purcell’s seasons are well underway, however, both having travelled to South Africa for the opening four events of the season. Purcell began with back-to-back top-10 finishes in the first two outings, but subsequent missed cuts in the following two halted his momentum somewhat.
McGee’s season opened with a T72 finish in Cape Town, followed by a T23 finish the following week. A missed cut at the SDC Open was a mere blip on the radar, however, as he’d storm back the following week to finish tied for third place at the Nelson Mandela Bay Championship, and he now lies 14th in the Race to Mallorca rankings, one place ahead of Purcell.
It is perhaps amateur Robert Moran’s inclusion, however, that catches the eye most. In the field as one of three amateur invitees, the Walker Cup hopeful will be keen to rubberstamp his professional credentials having progressed to stage two of DP World Tour Q-School late last year and he’ll find himself in really strong company this week with no shortage of players with a DP World Tour victory on their resume’s will tee it up.
Notable names include seven time European Tour winner Alvaro Quiros, four-time winner Matteo Mannassero, two-time winner Alejandro Canizares and two-time Walker Cup star Alex Fitzpatrick.
McElroy will get proceedings underway as part of the first group of the day off tee number one at 06:40 local time alongside local boy Pawan Kumar and Italian Stefano Mazzoli.
McGee is next up for the Irish, due off the 10th at 07:40, and he’s followed by Purcell at 07:50, while Moran is set to go off the first tee at 08:00.
Murphy and Kearney will go out in the afternoon wave, the former off the first tee at 12:25 and the latter off the tenth at 12:45.
Local time in Bangalore is five hours ahead of Irish time.
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