Kevin Phelan failed to match his heroics of day one after going nine shots worse on the second day of the HotelPlanner.com PGA EuroPro Tour’s Ablrate.com Championship at Wychwood.
The Waterford professional followed up a five-under-par opening with a plus-four 76 this afternoon to drop from 2nd to a share of 16th ahead of the final round tomorrow.
Having made the turn in 38, a triple bogey on 13 coupled with a double on 15 was largely to blame for a difficult day, however to his credit, Phelan managed three birdies on his back nine too, with his gain on 18 getting him back in the red for the week at one-under-par and comfortably inside the cut mark.
Alongside him at one-under-par sits North West’s Brian McElhinney after he returned a one-over-par 73 this afternoon. Three bogeys mixed with two gains sees him join Phelan in 16th spot with the pair six shots off the lead.
Limerick’s Luke Donnelly showed experience beyond his years to bounce back from a an opening 78 with a stunning four-under-par 68 to ensure his involvement in the final day.
The 21-year-old Mount Juliet professional started as he meant to go on with an eagle three at the first before adding five more birdies to move into a share of 37th place on two-over-par.
While in more good news for the traveling Irish, both Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan and Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney managed gutsy birdie fours at the par-5 18th hole to advance to the final round one inside the mark at two-over-par.
Plus three proved to be the magic number that opened the doors to the final round and unfortunately that brought about some Irish casualties. Daniel Brennan (+5), Team Ireland’s Brian Casey (+6) and Black Bush’s Stephen McCarthy (+7) all fell short of the required mark.
At the top, Jack South carded a second round of 68 (-4) to lead by two shots heading into the final round at Wychwood Park Golf Club, as he goes in hunt of his maiden win on Tour.
South (Hagley Golf Club/Taymar Homes) bettered his opening round of 67 (-3) on a day where many of the first round leaders moved backwards.
North was the only direction the Hagley man was heading in after bouncing back from a tricky run of three bogeys at the midway point of his round.
Four birdies on his back nine and no blemishes means South is in the driving seat with 18 holes left to play at the Cheshire track.
Reflecting on his round he said: “The back nine is really key to scoring low on this course. The two bogeys on 17 and 18 shook me up, I had a word with my caddie and we knew that level par through those nine holes wasn’t the end of the world.”
“I thought to myself: ‘let’s start again’ and I was able to shoot four-under which I’m very pleased with.”
On what was key to his success South said: “I think it was a combination of everything coming together across 18 holes.
“I’ve just got to let it happen tomorrow, you’ve got to be headstrong to win on this tour. You can’t show weakness, and I have at times, but to bounce back how I did today is an encouraging sign ahead of the final round.”
Three golfers in the form of Dave Coupland (Woodhall Spa Golf Club), Marco Penge (Golf at Goodwood), and Richard Mansell (Beau Desert Golf Club) occupy second spot two shots back on five-under par.
Coupland was happy with his 36 Home performance and said: “I played steady today just like I did in the first round. I stuck to my game plan today and combined with some nice approach play I am in the mix with 18 to go.”
“I’m really pleased with my season so far, I’ve worked hard on technique and my mindset and I’m starting to see some results. The course is tough this week but it’s not affected my performance over 36 holes so I’m confident heading into tomorrow.”
Elsewhere, two time EuroPro Tour winner Mark Young snuck inside the cut carding a second round of 69 (-3) to finish on three-over par for the Championship.