Five in a row to finish for Purcell who roars into Irish Challenge mix

Ronan MacNamara

Conor Purcell (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Getty Images)

Conor Purcell lit up the Irish Challenge on Thursday afternoon as he rolled in five successive birdies to finish his round and card an opening 66 in Headfort Golf Club.

Carrying the bulk of the Kells crowd alongside Irish Amateur champion John Gough (+1) and Alex Fitzpatrick (E), Purcell put the New Course to the sword with birdies on 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18, with the longest putt an 18-footer on the par-5 14th to get within one of the overnight lead held by Jamie Rutherford and Borja Virto.

“Yeah lovely to finish that way, it was quite a slow day up until then, I made a bogey on 12 to get back to even of the day and nothing was firing, then gave myself a few chances and held a few putts which was nice.”


After a birdie on 8 and a bogey on 12, not much was happening for the 25-year-old who faced a really difficult up and down for birdie from the lush thick rough on the par-5 14th before rolling in six footers on 15, 16 and 18 with a ten foot birdie two on 17 sandwiched in between.

“The birdie on 14 was huge, I missed the green and had a bad lie, chipped to 18 foot and just dropped in the front edge. I knew there would be a few chances coming in with the par five so it was nice to keep the ball rolling and finish that way.

“It was a tale of two nines, I felt horrendous and then I got more comfortable and made a few birdies. I’ve had five birdies in a row before but it’s been a while since.”

The Portmarnock man kickstarted his season on the Challenge Tour with a T5 finish at the Irish Challenge in the K Club last year and he is relishing home comforts with family from the Kells area.

“The feeling coming and playing in front of family and friends in Ireland is always really nice and just to have home comforts I have really enjoyed it so hopefully I can keep it going.”

Next best of the Irish is Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy who fired a morning 68 to climb to three-under which gave him a brief share of the lead .

Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell birdied two of his last four holes to shoot a one-under 70 while Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan recovered from a double bogey on his second hole to also shoot an opening 70 courtesy of a birdie on the 18th.

Conor O’Rourke and Niall Kearney are six shots off the pace on level-par while Kilkenny’s Mark Power leads the Irish amateur charge on one-over after two birdies in his last three holes gave him a 72 and he lies alongside Paul Dunne, Jonathan Yates and England’s Gough who has family scattered around Meath.

Cormac Sharvin is two-over with John Murphy a shot further back while Ruaidhri McGee is four-over and Liam Nolan is plus five after opening his first professional start with a 76.

Paul Murphy rounds off the Irish charge on +7.

Scoring HERE




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