Purcell scraps to make the cut as Elvira leads in Belgium

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Conor Purcell (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

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Nacho Elvira carded a second consecutive 64 to take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the Soudal Open while Conor Purcell made the cut on the number.

Purcell looked at his ease with a bogey free 67 to open his account but his second round of 72 was far from straight forward as he fell back to three-under with a pair of double bogeys thrown in.

The Dubliner started well with two quick fire birdies on the third and fifth before handing both shots back on the 7th with a double bogey six.

He recovered with a birdie on 8 but a bogey on the 10th and a second double on 13 dropped him below the cut line. Purcell finished strong with a birdie on 14 and no further blemishes.

Elvira came into day two at Rinkven International Golf Club two shots off the lead but stayed bogey-free through 36 holes as he moved to 14 under, one clear of England’s Ross Fisher who carded a 63 and three ahead of France’s Romain Langasque.

Canadian Aaron Cockerill, Kiwi Sam Jones, Dane Niklas Norgaard and England’s Andrew Wilson were then four shots off the lead in a wet Antwerp.

Elvira has been a picture of consistency in 2024, missing just one cut by a single shot and securing a tie for second at the Magical Kenya Open in February.

That is in stark contrast to the 2023 season where he missed 12 of his first 17 cuts before finishing second in Denmark, going on to finish 49th on the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex despite making the weekend just 40 per cent of the time.

He will now be hoping he can turn his new-found consistency into a second DP World Tour title at a course where he finished in the top ten two years ago.

“It was quite similar to yesterday, I played consistent and putted really well, extremely happy,” he said.

“It’s a course I like, it suits my eye off the tee a bit better than other courses. And I’m lucky enough to be putting well, so hopefully I can take advantage of that.

“Thank God it’s not raining and windy, it’s only raining. It’s not pleasant to be playing under the rain… I’m happy to be done.”

Starting on the tenth, Elvira put his tee-shot to ten feet at the par-three 12th and then put approaches even closer on the 14th, 16th and 18th to turn in 31 and reach double figures.

More seriously impressive iron play brought birdies on the third and fourth and the 37-year-old played a tidy lay-up on the next to make it a hat-trick of gains and hit the front.

Fisher was the last man to seal his card via the Race to Dubai last season but after a slow start to 2024, carded his lowest round in over two years on Friday.

A smart approach to the 11th was followed by a tap-in on the 14th as he started a run of four birdies: holing a long putt on the 15th, playing another nice approach on the 16th and getting up and down on the par-five next.

He then made a two-putt gain on the fifth, holed from 13 feet on the eighth and made a 30-footer on the ninth to be the nearest challenger.

Langasque was also bogey-free in round two as he carded a 67, putting irons inside 15 feet on the 14th, 16th and second and birdieing the fifth after laying up

Jones started the day with a two-shot lead after his opening 62 and birdied the 13th but then made back-to-back bogeys on the first and second before recovering with gains on the seventh and ninth in a 70.

Cockerill made seven birdies and two bogeys in a second consecutive 66, while Norgaard and Wilson were blemish free in carding rounds of 68.

England’s Joe Dean, playing his second DP World Tour event since finishing second alongside Elvira in Kenya in February just days after he was working as a supermarket delivery driver, carded the lowest round of his career by two shots with a 65 that left him at nine under.

Countryman Matthew Baldwin and local favourite Thomas Pieters were also five shots off the lead.

American Gunner Wiebe made the 12th hole-in-one of the season when his five iron from 189 yards found the bottom of the cup at the 15th.

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