Waterford’s Kevin Phelan finds himself just one stroke off the lead after carding a superb five-under-par 67 after round one of the HotelPlanner.com PGA EuroPro Tour’s Ablrate.com Championship at Wychwood Park Golf Club.
The experienced Phelan fired six birdies and just the one dropped shot to grab outright second spot, just one stroke behind last week’s Europro winner, Craig Ross at six-under-par.
Next best of the Irish is North West’s Brian McElhinney who returned a two-under-par 70 for a share of 13th spot after his opening effort.
Niall Kearney endured a roller-coaster ride in his one-under-par 71. The Royal Dublin professional mixed seven birdies alongside six birdies and will no doubt be looking to limit the mistakes today in order to challenge for a maiden Europro victory on Friday.
Of the other Irish contenders, Black Bush’s Stephen McCarthy managed to sign for a level par effort while Brian Casey (+2), Stuart Grehan (+3), Luke Donnelly (+6) and Daniel Brennan (+6) all have work to do to make the 36-hole cut.
At the top it’s all about Craig Ross once more as the Scot picked up from where he left off last week with a superb opening round of 66 (-6) to lead by one heading into the second round.
Ross (Kirkhill Golf Club) showed no signs of slowing down after his victory at the Clipper Logistics Championship, carding a blemish free opening round to put himself in the driving seat, picking up six birdies en route to his overnight lead.
It was a patient and professional performance from the Scotsman, who carded seven consecutive pars before his first birdie, of which his remaining five came from in the next seven holes.
Reflecting on his round he said: “I played really well today, I hit every green in regulation so I was giving myself plenty of scoring chances out there.”
“I just tried to be patient, the course is playing really firm and fast. I managed to knock a few close on my back nine which is where I picked up most of my shots.”
“I learnt a lot from my win last week, I know if I take my time the opportunities will be there; I will play to my strengths tomorrow and see where that gets me.”
Ross’ nearest rival sits a shot back in the form of Ireland’s Kevin Phelan (Waterford Castle) on five-under par (67) who was pleased with his performance.
He said: “I had a lot of birdie chances and was relatively steady throughout so I’m happy with my first 18 holes.
“I think there are some low scores out there, but you’ve got be cautious because the driver isn’t always the answer on a course like this.”
The second round of the Ablrate.com Championship continues today after which a cut to the leading 50 professionals and ties will be made.
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