Purcell three back in fourth as weekend looms at Challenge du Vaudreuil

Mark McGowan

Conor Purcell (Photo by Johan Rynners/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Conor Purcell is eyeing a maiden Challenge Tour victory after backing his opening 68 up with a second-round 69 to sit just three off the lead with 36 holes to go in Normandy.

Starting on the 10th, he’d bogey his opening hole, but pick up strokes on two of the following three to get into red figures on the day. He’d trade one more bogey with one more birdie before the turn, but he’d go blemish free on the front, picking up an additional two strokes with birdies on six and seven to reach the clubhouse at seven-under.

Unfortunately, Purcell will be the sole Irish representative for the final 36 holes as Ruaidhri McGee, Cormac Sharvin, Jonathan Caldwell, Dermot McElroy and Gary Hurley all missed the cut.

Wilco Nienaber, Wil Besseling and Jeff Guan, the only three ahead of Purcell who occupies solo fourth, share a three-stroke lead heading into the weekend of the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge.

Nienaber carded four birdies and two bogeys on his front nine to make the turn two under par for his day, before firing a bogey-free back nine that featured birdies on all three par fives to leave him ten under par after the first two rounds.

The 24-year-old, who led the DP World Tour in average driving distance last year, has been pleased with his driving so far this week and cited the importance of staying in play around the tight fairways.

“I’m really good off the tee, and this week it’s been a strength,” he said. “The driver goes far and quite straight as well. With that, it is nice knowing there are some holes where hitting an iron or even five wood or hybrid is not a problem.

“It’s nice to be in this position. It’s cliched, but I’m just going to see what I can do on every hole. If I get it right, I’m pretty sure I’ll be close on Sunday.”

Joint-leader Besseling carded four birdies in a bogey-free front nine to join Nienaber at ten under par – a score he maintained after shooting level par on the back. The Dutchman, who is playing his first season on the Challenge Tour since 2019, is delighted to be in contention heading into the weekend.

“I enjoyed myself out there,” he said. “I stayed patient, and the stuff I’m working on showed off, especially on the mental side of things.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been one of the leaders going into the weekend, so I’m excited for what’s ahead. I’ll try and do much the same as I’ve done the last couple of days, and hopefully it works out.”

19-year-old Guan fired five birdies and a pair of eagles to post a seven under round of 65 and claim the low round of day two. The Australian, who is playing his third event on the Challenge Tour, has taken an aggressive approach so far at Golf PGA France du Vaudreuil – a course that reminds him of playing in his homeland.

“I’ve been hitting it pretty good,” he said. “I hit a couple of loose shots yesterday but rectified that mistake today and focused on pin-hunting and holing more putts.

“This course really feels a lot like home for me. It’s a mixture of small greens and very demanding tee shots. That’s a really good advantage for the next two days.

“Going into the weekend, I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing, try to play my strengths, and whatever happens, happens.”

Irishman Conor Purcell lies fourth at seven under par, while Spaniards Quim Vidal and Joel Moscatel, Frenchman Sébastien Gros and Englishman John Parry are a further shot back in fifth. 11 players share ninth at five under par, including Road to Mallorca Number One Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen and Frenchmen Ouihan Guillamoundeguy and Félix Mory.

The third round of the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge will get underway at 8:45am local time, with Nienaber, Besseling and Guan teeing it up in the final group at 10:35am.


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