Round two of the 113th Irish PGA Championship was decimated by biblical weather conditions in Carne Golf Links as Waterville’s David Higgins showed all of his experience to claim the clubhouse lead on one-under-par.
Play was suspended due to high winds at 12.30 and despite some glorious sunshine in the afternoon, play didn’t resume until 18.30 with some players resuming their second rounds and others just teeing off in conditions not too dissimilar to what caused the suspension. The last group including first round co-leader Ryan Gribben (Naas) finally got underway at 18:50 before play was halted for the night ninety minutes later.
Higgins out in the opening group defied the biblical morning rain and 70km\h wind gusts to chisel out a wonderful two-under 70 to post the clubhouse lead before the suspension.
The Cork man will have waited more than 24 hours before he hits his next competitive shot with a final round shotgun expected to get underway on Saturday at 2pm with the second round resuming at 7.30am.
“It was a very tough day out there I had earned the hot shower! In fairness now the tees were up but it’s a fantastic score and it’s some of the hardest conditions I have ever played in so I am delighted with the score,” said the two-time Irish PGA champion.
Higgins carded two birdies and a bogey in his first three holes before a birdie on the sixth was the first of four birdies in five holes around the turn as he charged to the top of the leaderboard on his own.
The 50-year-old dropped a shot on 16 and double bogeyed the treacherous par-4 17th but made a clutch up and down for a closing par.
“i hit some lovely iron shots and just hit it in close and got the putts, that’s the story of every good round of golf you have to get the putts and I did that. The finish wasn’t great but I made a nice up and down on the last and I’m delighted to shoot two under.”
Higgins won the 2021 Irish PGA Championship in Carne and he was relishing the Belmullet beast. With play suspended until later in the afternoon he faces a long wait at the top of the leaderboard while events unfold and he hopes to be able to go out and defend a lead on Saturday if it transpires.
“Every hole out there is a potential triple or quadruple, it’s a very tough course in very tough conditions I’m playing long enough and I know myself that if I keep it in play and play my normal game I can score, I like this place.
“When we played the last two or three holes it got very bad and I could see that happening so that’s the way it goes. Hopefully we will get to play the three rounds. We’ll see what happens we have only played two rounds and I hope to be getting back out tomorrow on another windy day. If I shoot the best score I can I won’t be far off and try and give myself the best chance I can tomorrow.”
Only two groups returned scores before play was halted with Thornton (Spa) carding a gutsy two-over 74 to lie just four shots back on three-over while McGrane (Carlow) is seven-over after a 74 of his own.
2013 Irish PGA champion Michael McGeady shot another great score in the conditions with a one-under 71 to climb to six-over-par.
Sunshine Tour professional Richard O’Donovan had grabbed a share of the lead but upon returning to complete his 18th hole he flew the green from 70 yards which cost him a triple bogey eight and dropped him to solo third on two-over.
Kilkenny’s Jimmy Bolger hung tough with a one-over 73 to lie on three-over and he is firmly in the mix and can look forward to a late tee time.
A further five groups managed to complete their third rounds with the cut set to fall at the top-50 and ties and is currently projected at fifteen-over.
“It was absolutely mayhem out there,” said Liam Grehan who managed to get his second round completed.
“It was brutally tough, a soon as you go off and maybe out of the way and you get the ball going somehow it’s maybe a lost ball. Before play was suspended I had just made a nine on the 13th so I found it pretty tough coming in. Just trying to judge what is going to happen with the ball is brutal because there are so many dunes and it’s so hard to know if the wind is going to hit the ball or not.
“It was funny as soon as the hooter sounded to go back out it started raining again so it was pretty brutal.”