Opening 69 has Kinsale’s Murphy eyeing weekend tee time at Soudal Open

Mark McGowan

John Murphy (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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John Murphy shot a first-round, two-under 69 at the DP World Tour’s Soudal Open at Antwerp’s Rinkven International Golf Club as the Kinsale man seeks a first paycheck in his rookie tour season.

Enduring a difficult maiden campaign on Europe’s premier circuit, Murphy spied green shoots in the opening round at last week’s Italian Open, and he came fast out of the blocks in this week’s event, rolling in a 23-footer on the tenth (his first) to get the ball rolling, and though he’d drop a shot on the 16th, the response was ideal as he’d birdie the par-5 17th and make the turn at -1.

He’d par eight of the nine holes on the front side, the only deviation being a birdie-three at the fourth, and he’d post -2, good for a tie for 31st at the end of the day’s play.

Gary Hurley, the only other Irishman in the field, would struggle to a two-over 73, leaving the Waterford man well outside the cut line and in need of a low round on Friday if he’s to earn himself a weekend tee time.

Simon Forsström carded his lowest round of the 2023 Race to Dubai to take a one stroke lead after day one.

The Swede made the turn in 32 strokes, four under par, and then carded three successive birdies from the 11th hole to sign for a bogey-free seven under par 64.

The 34-year-old is one stroke ahead of his compatriot Jens Dantorp, James Morrison and Andrew Wilson of England, and Germany’s Marcel Siem, who is seeking a second victory of the season after his win at the Hero Indian Open in February.

Siem carded nine birdies, including five on the back nine as he recovered from a double bogey on the tenth in his six under round of 65.

Thomas Detry, who is seeking a maiden victory on home soil this week, is leading the Belgian charge after carding a bogey-free four under par round of 67 to sit in a share of 14th place after the first round.

 “Everything went very well,” Forsström said afterwards. “I hit the driver straight, put some shots very close and holed a couple of putts as well. Everything was rolling pretty well today.

“I’ve been playing pretty steady, making a lot of cuts and a couple of top tens. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and seeing what I can do, I feel like the game is pretty good now.

“I always enjoyed playing in Belgium when we played here on the Challenge Tour. I like the course because it’s narrow and not so long, so it should fit me well. When I saw it during the practice round I was very pleased with the course, I’m glad I could take advantage of it today.”


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