Purcell two shots off the pace after encouraging start in Cape Town

Ronan MacNamara

Conor Purcell (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Conor Purcell has started as he means to go on at the Bain’s Whisky Open as he got his Challenge Tour campaign off to a flying start.

Purcell shot a four-under 68 to lie in a share of fourth place just two shots off the early lead held by Manuel Elvira of Spain in Cape Town.

Playing his first full season on Europe’s second-tier after performing well enough in invites last year to earn full status, Purcell birdied his first two holes before adding a third on 16 after his only bogey of the day came on 14.


After a run of six straight pars, the Portmarnock man took advantage of the two pars fives on the front nine with birdies on 5 and 7 to move into the top-5 and into contention alongside former Scottish Open champion Brandon Stone.

The 25-year-old arrived high on confidence after a career-best T7 finish on the DP World Tour in the Australian Open in December and there were little to no signs of rust on day one.

Derry’s Ruaidhrí McGee also got off to a solid start with a level-par 72 although he will be disappointed with his finish after letting two shots slip late on.

Beginning on the back nine, the 31-year-old posted birdies on the 16th and 3rd before dropping shots on the sixth and ninth to fall back into a share of 61st place.

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