Four of the six Irish players in the field at India’s Duncan Taylor Black Bull Challenge are safely through to the weekend, though all will have considerable ground to make up on moving day if they’re to have any chance of getting in the mix in Sunday’s final round.
Starting the day at -4, Conor Purcell and Niall Kearney were the best placed of the six, and they’d remain so at the end of play, but losing marginal ground to the tournament leader in the progress.
After a disappointing end to the first round that saw him drop three strokes over the closing four holes, Kearney’s frustrations continued into round two with bogeys at one and three, but he regained his composure and birdied the sixth to begin moving in the right direction again. He caught fire around the turn, reeling off four birdies in a row from nine through 12, and added another at the 14th to get to -8 for the tournament, and as one of the early starters, back inside the top five.
Unfortunately, much like the previous day, he’d drop three strokes over the closing four holes, courtesy of a bogey-four on 15 and a double-bogey at the par-4 finisher to post -5.
Purcell’s 71 wasn’t quite the rollercoaster that Kearney’s was, but he was also left ruing a finish that saw him drop two in the final three holes. One birdie and one bogey on the front nine saw him make the turn at level par, but he’d post back-to-back birdies on 10 and 11, and picked up another stroke at the 14th to get to -7, before the two late bogeys dropped him back to -5 alongside Kearney and they’d end the day tied 30th.
The best rounds of the day from an Irish perspective came from Robert Moran and Dermot McElroy, both of whom started the day knowing that they’d likely need red-figured rounds to make the 36-hole cut.
Moran began at -2, and strung five consecutive pars together before a two at the 15th (his sixth) opened his birdie account. Seven more pars followed before a four at the par-5 fifth took him a stroke ahead of the provisional mark. With a weekend tee-time within his grasp, the Castle amateur then bogeyed the sixth and seventh holes to fall the wrong side of the chopping line, but his response was that of a pro as he’d birdie the last two to finish the day at -4 thanks to consecutive 70s.
One stroke behind Moran as he teed off, McElroy’s challenge was a little stiffer, but three birdies in his first four holes gave him a little breathing room, but a bogey at the next brought the cutline sharply up in the rearview mirror again. Another birdie at the first (his tenth) was immediately followed by a bogey at the second, but he’d manage to par his way home to make the cut on the number.
There was no such joy for Ruaidhri McGee, whose opening 75 left him with too much work to do, and though he’d improve with a level-par 72, he never looked likely to make a charge.
John Murphy began the day alongside McElroy at -1, but short on confidence, two early bogeys left him with a lot of ground to make up, and he faded further late in the round.
First round leader Manuel Elvira maintains his one-stroke advantage at the top, though Swede Rikard Karlberg is now his closest challenger after shooting 66. Elvira lies at -11, Karlberg at -10 and there’s a four-way tie for third at -9.
“There were a couple of tricky pins today,” Elvira said afterwards, “and the wind switches quite a bit on this course which makes some shots difficult to judge,” he said. “On a few occasions I hit my tee shot downwind and then my approach shot was suddenly into the wind which was difficult and it takes some adjusting.”
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