Murphy, McKibbin and Hurley steady out of the blocks in Thailand

Ronan MacNamara

John Murphy (Picture: Niall O'Shea)

John Murphy leads the Irish charge after a much-needed under par round on day one of the Thailand Classic as Sami Valimaki and Martin Simonsen lead the way.

Murphy battled hard to post a two-under 70 which leaves him in 53rd place, six shots off the early pacesetters.

The Kinsale star carded three birdies and just one bogey in what is a welcome start as he looks to make the first cut of his rookie DP World Tour campaign. The former Walker Cup player played Amata Spring CC from back to front with birdies coming on 13, 4 and 8.


After contending for his maiden DP World Tour win last weekend, Tom McKibbin endured a quieter opening round than he would have been hoping for.

The Holywood native opened with a one-under 71 which included a much improved back nine of 32 comprising of three birdies. The 20-year-old turned in 37 but responded with birdies on 11, 13 and 16 with a third bogey of the day coming on 18.

West Waterford’s Gary Hurley lies alongside McKibbin after a birdie on the last lifted him into the red as he looks to arrest a run of back-to-back missed cuts.

Having come agonisingly close to a second DP World Tour title, Finland’s Valimaki looks poised to challenge again.

“A really good round. I started nicely and kept it going the whole day.

“I just kept playing and when I started hitting the ball really well, it just made it easy. I was putting really good the whole time and when I got chances I tried to make them.

“(My win) was a long time ago. I changed coach last year in the middle of the year. After that I’ve played better and better. I had some issues with my body last year but now I’m healthy and playing good.”

Lying in the pack just two behind is Spain’s Rafael Cabrera Bello in fifth place and he took advantage of the back nine with three in a row coming from the tenth.

“I’m very happy. Obviously, it’s a good start. I felt I played well, I didn’t give myself many bogey chances but I made some good up and downs as well. Overall, I’m very happy with the result.

“I think the beginning of both nines is when you can get the most amount of birdies. They are scoreable holes and I was already happy with under par on the front nine, but if you birdie ten, 11 and 12 it’ll put a smile on your face very quickly.

“(17) is not that long of a hole, but when you have decent greens and are surrounded by water, all of a sudden you’re playing mind games and it becomes tougher than it is. We just tried to forget everything that was around and focus on the routine. I executed the shot that I wanted, it ended up pretty good and I rolled the putt. I would have loved 17 no matter what, but with a birdie, if I can chose a result, I’d choose a birdie.

“We’ll see what the day throws us tomorrow. Normally the greens tend to be a bit more receptive and with less footprints so the ball rolls nicely. I putted good today, but you still have to play good. Now I’ll just enjoy the afternoon, do what I need to do to prepare for tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.”

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