Purcell shakes off knee issue to roar into Abu Dhabi mix with blistering 62

Ronan MacNamara

Conor Purcell (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Conor Purcell is just three shots off the lead at the Abu Dhabi Challenge after a stunning round of 62 early on Friday at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club.

Purcell sits in a share of fifth place on ten-under with South Africa’s Wilco Nienaber in front on thirteen-under after a course record 60 alongside Nicolai Kristensen.

Starting on the back nine, Purcell opened with a birdie on the 10th before closing out his opening nine with four birdies in five holes.

A birdie on the first made it three in a row for the Portmarnock man and he added another on the fourth.

His only dropped shot of the day cam eon the 6th but back-to-back birdies ensured he registered red numbers on all the par-5s and par-3s.

“Very pleased, yesterday was one of those days where I hit it OK but I had a lot of really bad numbers,” said the 26-year-old. “Didn’t give myself any really good looks and today was kind of the opposite, I had a lot of good numbers and capitalised.

“I drove it really well today I was in position on most holes. Played the par-3s really well, birdied three of them and birdied all the par fives as well I think and whenever I had a chance the putts went in.”

Purcell has had a decent start to his second full season on the Challenge Tour without necessarily putting four rounds together.

Sitting at 39th in the Road to Mallorca Rankings, he hopes to consolidate a place in the top-20 and secure a DP World Tour card and if he can shake off a niggling leg issue he can move up a level in the summer.

“I’m battling a few things I have an issue in my leg but apart from that it’s getting better everyday which is nice. Hopefully we can keep it going.

“It was a close call last year but it gives me some chances this year, just a step in the right direction but it’s about getting better every year and if I can do that I’ll be happy.

“I want to see how things go. Top-20 is first priority and if I can play some DP World Tour events and do well out there I will.”

Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy is a shot further back of Purcell after a second round of 65 where he was bogey free.

Gary Hurley battled back from a slow start to shoot a 68 and make the cut on five-under-par while Mark Power and Daniel Mulligan both made the low scoring cut on the number at four-under.

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