Mixed fortunes for the Irish at Alps Tunisia as Moran and Maguire in contention

Kevin Kent

Robert Moran (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Kevin Kent

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The Alps Tour this week headed to the gorgeous La Cigale Tabarka GC as the Tunisian Golf Open got underway. 54 holes to decide the victor on this Cypress Point Club inspired course, designed by Ronald Fream. Five Irish runners and riders take part this week vying for their share of the 45,000 Euro prize fund.

The morning session of day one saw Alex Maguire out first, heading out from the 1st  tee in the early three-balls of the day on the par-4 opener. A par-par start would set him up nicely as his round was beginning to take shape. Birdie on the third was the spark needed and two more were to follow on the two par-5s, the 6th and 9th, and he’d turn at three-under. Maguire was consistency personified on his back nine, coming home with a card of nine-straight pars on his way to the clubhouse. Three under for the day leaves Maguire in great shape heading into Friday before the 54-hole cut. The 23-year-old will start on the back nine tomorrow at 13.07 local time as he looks to consolidate on his good opening round.

Next up, starting on the 10th this morning, Marc Boucher would bank three consecutive pars to settle him onto proceedings. Two birdies would follow on the par-3 13th and again on the 14th, but Boucher would give one back on the 18th to turn on 3 and one-under. The Carton House man would suffer a wobble on his back-nine though. Bogeys on the 1st and again at the par-3 4th were compounded with a double on the following hole. He would snatch two back with consecutive birdies however, to close out his day on 73 and one-over. Good damage limitation on a tricky day for Boucher. 13.18pm tomorrow will see the 27-year-old hit the first tee box to rejoin the fray.

First out of the afternoon’s Irish contenders was Paul McBride who got underway with bogey on the par-4 1st hole. A run of six straight pars would be his response but he would see one more bogey on the 8th to turn for two-over-par. McBride got his first birdie of the day on the par-5 12th only to follow that with two more bogeys on-the-bounce. Another bogey on the 17th was followed by a disappointing double on McBride’s final hole of the day. A 78 opening round sees the Malahide man sit six-over heading into day two. He will face the course at 7.33 tomorrow morning local time with a challenge to make his way safely through to Saturday.

Meanwhile starting on the 10th was Brandon St. John who would spark his afternoon off with birdie on his first hole. He would have a back-and-forth with the course on his opening nine as the Portmarnock man went on to card three bogeys culminating on his 9th hole. A second birdie on the par-3 13th would help him temper the damage to turn on one-over with a 37. The par-3s would again prove fruitful for the 20-year-old as the 4th was to see his solitary birdie of his back nine. Three bogeys on the way home including his par-5 final hole see St. John sit on three-over for his day and sees him smack in the middle of the pack going into tomorrow’s action.

Finally, of the Irish contingent out on course today, and heading out on the 1st this lunchtime was Castle GC’s Robert Moran. The 25-year-old would start off steady with two opening pars. Two bogeys were to come on the 3rd and again on the par-4 5th. Moran showed resilience to claw these two strokes back with birdies on the par-5 6th hole and again on the 9th to close out his outward nine on level par. The best was yet to come however as Moran went on to put a blistering run together on his way homeward. Birdie on 11 was quickly followed by eagle on the par-5 12th kicking his round into gear. Despite dropping a shot on the subsequent hole, Moran would bounce back with another quickfire run of three birdies and would par his way home after a great display to sit five-under-par and right in the mix on a tie for third, just two strokes back from our overnight leader.

That position belongs to Italian Manfredi Manica who would card two eye-catching eagles in a fine round to sit one clear at the top on seven-under. In hot pursuit one shot back sits Benjamin Kedochim on six-under. The French man would drop only one shot all day to sit on second place outright. A clutch of four, including Ireland’s Moran sit one further back while Maguire lurks in 12th on three under. A mixed bag for the Irish today and all will have different motivating factors as we look forward to another action packed round La Cigale Tabarka GC tomorrow.


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