Purcell continues to lead the Irish assault in Abu Dhabi

Mark McGowan

Conor Purcell (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Conor Purcell backed up his opening 69 with a two-under round of 70 in the second round of the Abu Dhabi Challenge at to lead the seven-strong Irish contingent in a tie for 14th at the halfway mark.

Two birdies, coming on the eighth and the last holes, were the only deviations from par as Purcell would post just one bogey for his 36 holes, that coming on the seventh in round one, seeing the Portmarnock man safely through to the weekend and primed for a moving-day charge into the top 10.

He’ll be joined by Niall Kearney and Ruaidhri McGee, who both lie on one-under through two rounds. Kearney’s round of -3 was the lowest of the seven Irish players in round two, and the Dubliner began in style with birdies on the opening two holes and added two more at eight and 11 before recording his first bogey of the day on the 17th.


McGee traded three birdies and three bogeys to shoot a level-par 72, and the pair finished the day in a tie for 47th.

Jonathan Caldwell faced a nervy wait to see if he would play at the weekend, after the Clandeboye man matched his opening round of level par with another in round two. Two birdies on the front nine were offset with bogeys at 14 and 18, which left him sitting just above the provisional cut mark with the majority of the field yet to finish. Throughout the afternoon the cutline danced from level-par to -1 and back again, but when South African Jaco Prinsloo failed to birdie the par-5 finishing hole, Caldwell’s weekend berth was secured.

Unfortunately, Dermot McElroy won’t feature in round three. Three early bogeys did the damage for the Ballymena Challenge Tour rookie, but he gave himself an outside chance of qualification with a stunning eagle at the par-5 18th, but his hopes that scoring would go up significantly in the afternoon never materialised and he’ll sit out the weekend’s action along with Paul Dunne whose struggles continue.

Englishman Joshua Greenville-Wood fired a seven-under 65 to post -14 and leapfrog fellow countryman Tom Lewis at the top of the leaderboard with the two-time DP World Tour winner posting a five-under of his own to trail Greenville-Wood by one.

Greenville-Wood has recorded 14 birdies and remains bogey-free through two rounds. The 25-year-old University of South Carolina graduate plies his trade on the Asian Tour and has yet to record a tour victory, but the UAE resident is clearly enjoying playing in his adopted home country.

“I’m buzzing with my round today,” he said. “A few weeks ago, I didn’t even know if I would be in the event so the last two days have given me a big boost in confidence. To come out here and play this well, I’m over the moon.

“I have made it two rounds without a bogey, and I put that down to my ball striking. I’ve only missed three greens in two days and the greens I have missed I’ve left the ball in the right place and managed to get up and down to save par.

“I think living here is an advantage,” he said. “The heat isn’t bothering me this week and for me it’s a nice temperature to play in. I’m not feeling tired towards the end of the round so I think that has played an important factor so far and I know I can finish strong out here.

“I know the grasses well around here and I also know how to play out of the bunkers. I’m able to hit it pretty far and the further you hit it round here the wider the fairways become.”

South African duo Brandon Stone and the big-hitting Wilco Nienaber are tied for third at -10.


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