Despite the course playing some 150 yards shorter than on Friday’s opening round, scoring is proving more difficult in round two as County Sligo Golf Club continues it’s brutal examination of the game’s leading amateurs at the Connolly’s Audi West of Ireland Championship.
As strong winds continue to blow through the dunes of Rosses Point, it’s turning into a war of attrition with none of the early starters able to break par.
A six-over 77 saw pre-tournament favourite and joint overnight leader Arron Edwards Hill surrender the early advantage. The Chelmsford man who plays off plus-seven fell victim to a lost ball on the par-5 third and it would cost him a double-bogey, and he’d drop additional shots at nine, 14 and the closing brace.
Playing alongside Edwards-Hill, Hugh Foley went one better than his opening salvo to card a three-over 74, which is likely to see the Royal Dublin man make considerable ground on the leaderboard as the wind continues to pick up strength as the day progresses.
Foley, who won the North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush last year and followed up at Lahinch to claim the Southern title a week later, carded two birdies and five bogeys en route to his 74, a disappointing three-putt at the last putting a slight dampener on the round.
“It felt pretty similar to what we had yesterday afternoon,” Foley said afterwards, “they’ve moved the tees up a little but some of the pins are tougher, I thought. A frustrating three putt on 18 – I had no idea that two-over would be as good as it would be, if I had shot two-over. I thought six-over would be well within a chance tomorrow – seven-over still is, but I know there’s some bad weather coming. A lot of this format is draw dependant, if I’m being honest.”
“I played a bit better into the wind today,” Foley admitted, “they moved the tees up so it was a little easier, hitting less club in, but I don’t quite have full control of it like when you do when you’re playing great, but I’m getting it around and making a few good putts. But it’s been two nearly days.”
Tralee’s Eoghan O’Donnell shares the clubhouse lead with Edwards-Hill at +5 after the left-hander followed his opening 72 with a 75, with Foley and Scotland’s Andrew Benson two strokes further back.
Level for the day – one-over for the tournament – through 12, back-to-back bogeys were followed by back-to-back doubles as the toughest stretch of the course threatened to derail Benson’s challenge entirely. He’d regroup impressively to par the final two holes and he’ll fancy his chances of making the top 16 should the wind continue to blow hard for the afternoon wave.
Current leading trio of Co. Sligo’s Ruairi O’Connor, Rory Williamson of Holywood and Carton House’s Eoin Sullivan are all out in the afternoon wave, along with Quentin Carew who’s a single stroke behind, and it remains to be seen whether the scoring trend from the early starters continues.
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