Royal Dublin’s Hugh Foley showed the value of hanging tough as he clawed his way back into contention at the 57th Lytham Trophy having seemed destined for an early flight home.
Foley was six-over after 12 holes on Friday following a calamitous run of seven bogeys in eight holes, but he has come roaring back playing his last 24 holes in four-under to move to within five of the halfway lead.
Douglas teenager Jack Murphy leads the Irish charge in Royal Lytham & St Annes on one-over which has him in a share of fourth place and just three shots off the lead held by Frank Kennedy and Spain’s Luis Masaveu.
Foley is a shot behind Murphy in sixth after a sublime second round effort of 68. It’s been a superb fightback so far which started on the 13th hole in round one.
“Seven bogeys in eight holes was a bit of a bogey train,” laughed Foley. “I have Jake Hapgood here caddying for me he played for Wales as an amateur and he gets coached by Geoff Loughrey as well. He kept me going and kept me level headed.”
Pesky yet well-placed fairway bunkers proved fatal for the North and South of Ireland champion on Friday but Foley has taken great pride in his comeback as he looks for what would be a massive win abroad in a Walker Cup year.
“It’s a tough place to play when you’re just a little bit off at this time of year you’re better off hitting one 20 off line than 5 because the balls five yards offline find bunkers and they are like penalty areas, hitting out sideways most of the time. Found four or five bunkers in those eight holes with a couple of bad shots and all of a sudden I am six-over through ten for the tournament and just trying not to pack my bags.
“Fought hard yesterday which gave me a big boost and since that stretch I’m four-under for the last 24 holes which is great. My golf is good just need to keep at it and keep the head down.
“It’s a course where you can have three or four bogeys but you need to make as many birdies as you can. The course is tough, fairways are very firm, not much rough and the pins have been tucked so you need to be smart and not miss shortside, just need to mix the aggressive and smart play.”
At the halfway point, four Irish are inside the top-11 with Naas’ Robert Brazill and first round leader Joshua Hill part of that quartet on three-over after rounds of 71 and 75 respectively.
Meanwhile Portmarnock debutant Brandon St John carded a second round 74 to lie on plus four alongside Robert Moran and defending champion John Gough.
Athenry’s David Kitt is five-over after a 74 as is US Mid-Am winner Matthew McClean after rounds of 72 and 73.
“Eight Irish made the cut which is great, it’s a really tight cut, top40 out of 150 players is one of the tightest cuts of the year, good to have a strong Irish presence and hopefully we can have an Irish winner on Sunday night,” said Foley who can feel the momentum heading into the 36-hole Sunday.
“I’ve been happy with my mental game, my putting has been really solid I’m happy with how I fought back from Friday’s start and despite not having my best stuff I’m happy with where I am and I feel close to some really good golf.”
The aforementioned Murphy is enjoying a wonderful debut and the first round co-leader hung in well on a difficult Saturday morning. Three bogeys in his first five holes was far from the ideal start for the Cork teen but he rallied with a birdie on 13 and a bogey on 15 to keep his challenge very much alive.
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