Jordan Smith will take a three-shot lead into the weekend at the Cazoo Open de France as all three Irish players struggled to a missed cut.
Smith carded a seven-under-par 64 on day two at Le Golf National. He birdied five of his first six holes to hit the front and then tackled the tough back nine in two-under-pat 33 to get to 12-under-par to take control.
Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson is Smith’s closest challenger on nine-under-par, two shots clear of local favourite Julien Brun, Japan’s Ryo Hisatsune, Dane Nicolai Højgaard, South African Zander Lombard, England’s Richard Mansell and German Yannik Paul.
Smith has been one of the DP World Tour’s most consistent performers since winning the Porsche European Open in his 2017 rookie campaign, having topped the EuroPro Tour and European Challenge Tour Rankings in the two previous seasons.
Smith told the media that his performance is down to a lot of hard work he has been putting in on the practice putting green.
“The last few weeks have been really good, been putting lovely, so there’s a lot of confidence in there,” he said. “Been doing a lot of work with my putting coach, Matt, back home and away at tournaments.
“It’s been a lot of work, lot of drills, lot of time on the putting green but the last week has been great on the putting green so it’s given me a lot of confidence.”
He added: “I hit some awesome iron shots. The challenge was mainly the wind, a lot of the time it was a crosswind so you were trying to work out whether it was hurting a little bit or helping a little bit so I’m really happy with the way I’m playing.
“You’ve seen it in the past, those last few holes catch people out so it’s more of the same. Staying aggressive, greens are soft so you can go straight at the pins.”
It was a tough week for the Irish as all three will miss out on playing the weekend in Paris. Tom McKibbin found the water with his approach on the first hole, his tenth hole of the day, carding a double-bogey on the way to a two-over-par 73 for a four-over-par total. His total was matched by John Murphy who made five bogeys on the front nine on the way to a four-over-par 75 for his four-over-par total.
Mark Power couldn’t continue his form from his debut on the DP World Tour as a five-over-par 76 meant he finished on a seven-over-par total. Power triple bogeyed the 12th, his third hole of the day before falling foul of the tricky par four first like McKibbin with a quadruple bogey eight and he never recovered.