71s for Purcell, McElroy and Caldwell as Bessa leads the Open de Portugal

Conor Cantwell

Dermot McElroy (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Rounds of 71 from Conor Purcell, Dermot McElroy and Jonathan Caldwell leave the Irish trio tied for 51st at the Open de Portugal at Royal Óbidos on one-under-par.

Tomás Bessa returned to the clubhouse with the outright lead after the opening day of play after a blemish-free round of 63 and finished on nine-under-par, two shots ahead of Englishman Marco Penge.

Jonathan Caldwell began his day in steady fashion as he played the front nine to par. He continued this run of pars as he started the back nine with two pars before he began to move up the leaderboard.


Consecutive birdies on the 12th and 13th gave the 39-year-old a jolt as he moved to two-under-par but would give a shot back on the par-3 15th with a bogey.

Caldwell momentarily returned to level par with a bogey on the 17th but gained it back as he finished his round with a birdie on the par-five 18th, finishing the round one-under-par.

A strong first half of Conor Purcell’s round was torpedoed by an untimely triple bogey on the 15th as he finished his round one better than the course average.

A stretch of birdies between the third and seventh gave the 26-year-old a score of three-under-par as he started the back nine. A dropped shot on the 10th was rectified by a birdie on the 13th to keep Purcell at three-under-par.

A disastrous triple bogey on the 15th dropped Purcell back to level par but was able to notch a birdie on the 17th to complete an opening round of 71.

Northern Irishman Dermot McElroy began his round from the 10th tee and played very solidly across the front nine.

McElroy started with a run of pars from the 10th to the 15th before he moved to -1 with a birdie on the 16th. The 30-year-old followed this up with a par on the 17th before mirroring Caldwell as he birdied the 18th.

Bogey’s on the second and fourth dropped him to level par as he stepped up to the fifth tee. McElroy played his final five holes in one-under-par with a birdie on the par-five seventh either side of two pars as he finished with tied with Caldwell and Purcell on -1.

Jonathan Yates and Niall Kearney finished the day with shares of 89th place on one-over par while Daniel Mulligan makes up the rest of the Irish field finishing the day on +4.

Clubhouse leader Tomás Bessa’s stunning opening round puts him in a great position to challenge late into the weekend on home soil and opened up about his opening round in the context of a difficult season.

“I played amazing for all 18 holes,” he said. “I made good putts and was swinging well all the way around. It’s my lowest ever round and to do it in my home country just makes it more special.

“The season hasn’t gone well for me, especially mentally,” he added. “It’s been tough, but I felt that I had a good rhythm today and good confidence today.

“A win would change everything. It would be very special to have a first win here or a really high finish. That’s exactly what I need to do to get this season trending in the right direction.


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