West Waterford’s Gary Hurley continued his recent revival to fire himself within one shot of the lead at the halfway stage of the 56º Open de Portugal at Morgado Golf Resort.
Hurley has shown sprouts of form of late that eluded him last season and added a 69 to his opening round of 70 to sit just one shot off the pace in a share of second on five-under-par.
He carded six birdies to add to his haul of five yesterday and that puts the former Maynooth University man within stalking distance of Spaniard, Adri Arnaus, heading into the weekend.
Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy is safely through to the business end of proceedings but he’ll be kicking himself having got to three-under for the tournament entering his back nine today.
A triple bogey seven at the 1st, his 10th, followed by a bogey at his 13th meant he was home in 40 wallops, his 75 good enough for a share of 45th spot at plus one.
Perspective is a funny thing in golf and there’s no doubt that Stuart Grehan will be feeling on top of the world despite being one shot adrift of McElroy. The Tullamore rookie fired four birdies en route to a one-under 71 to make it through to the weekend at plus two. Chris Selfridge joins Grehan in the weekend draw on the same number after a 73 today.
Unfortunately there was bitter disappointment for Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin who took nine shots more than he needed yesterday to get home. Sharvin slumped to a six-over 78 to miss out on the magic number by a single stroke on plus three.
Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell was two shots further back on plus five while the Naas duo of Conor O’Rourke and Jack Hume missed out on the weekend’s play on plus nine and plus ten respectively.
Adri Arnaus retained his position at the top of the leaderboard by carding a one under par 71 to take a one-shot lead at the halfway stage in Portugal.
Following a five under par opening round of 67 – his first sub-70 score of the European Challenge Tour season – the Spaniard battled windy conditions in Portimão to sit one shot ahead of Switzerland’s Joel Girrbach, our own Hurley and Australia’s Dimitrios Papadatos after 36 holes.
Girrbach, who won the 2017 Swiss Challenge presented by ASG, and Australian Papadatos, who is making his first appearance in Portugal, both set the pace early on Day Two by carding rounds of 68 and 66 respectively to set the clubhouse lead at five under par.
But the pressure did not affect Arnaus as he began his second round in stunning style with two birdies in his opening three holes to quickly move to seven under par and away from the field.
A bogey on his eighth hole was soon forgotten as he began his back nine in the same way he started his first – birdie-par-birdie. A double bogey on the par four fourth looked to have shaken him but the Spaniard steadied himself and parred his final five holes to reach six under par overall.
After recording his best opening two rounds of the season, Arnaus was extremely pleased with ‘another fun day on the course’.
“I played pretty well and it was probably a little bit tougher than yesterday, as the wind came a little earlier but I’m proud of how I played,” he said.
“I started really well with two birdies in three holes and then it got tricky in the middle – my putts didn’t quite go in. At the end of the day I’m still up there so it’s good to be in this position.
“I still made some birdies but then I had a couple of errors out there, but when it is this windy that can definitely happen, so that doesn’t worry me. At the end I am really happy with how I played.
“It’s always nice to have a good chance going into the weekend, so now I need to keep doing what I’m doing and have a good weekend and see what we can do.
“It is a windy place so it will definitely be a factor to consider but at the same time it makes it more fun. You’ve got to think about the shots, think where you’re going to bounce it and calculate a lot of things, so it’s going to be a fun weekend.”
Three shots off the lead is Englishman Jack Singh Brar who signed for the round of the day. The 21 year old finished tied second on his Challenge Tour debut in Turkey last month and showed his talent once more as he shot up the leaderboard with a blemish-free 65 – 11 shots better than his opening 76 yesterday.