Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell was satisfied with his start after posting a bogey-free four-under par round of 68 on day one of The Challenge presented by KGA in India.
The second instalment of a double-header at Karnataka Golf saw Purcell, who shared 48th after a final round 74 on Sunday, bounce back with a blemish-free 68, the same number he started with at last week’s event.
The Dubliner posted two birdies and an eagle at the par-5 11th and sits in a share of 16th place overnight, four strokes back of Michael Hirmer’s lead.
“I played very solid today,” said Purcell. “It was nothing too spectacular but I just learned how to get it around the course having played it last week.
“I got lucky a few times hitting the ball off-line but still managing to have a few gaps in the trees to limit the mistakes.
“I was putting really well again so things seem to be going in the right direction and it’s always nice to start bogey-free and I’ll try do more of the same going forward.”
As for the other Irish in the field, Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney traded three birdies with two bogeys in a one-under 71.
He sits in a tie for 47th spot alongside Kinsale’s John Murphy who carded five birdies in his one-under par effort, highlighted by a monster birdie putt at the ninth.
Straight down the barrel 🔫#TheChallenge | @john_murphy5 pic.twitter.com/6XFMmGlhzQ
— Challenge Tour (@Challenge_Tour) March 28, 2023
Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee was a shot further back at even par after his four birdies were cancelled out by four bogeys while Castle amateur Robert Moran completed the Irish scoring at one-over par.
At the top, German Hirmer was pleased to see the putts begin to drop in his eight-under par opener in Bangalore.
“It was a good day,” he said. “I got off to a great start and my putter was really hot. I was in a nice flow this morning and I am really happy.
“I hit some good irons today and stayed patient. Last week I played well but didn’t make my putts. It was nice to see some putts drop today and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.
“I love the weather and the grass here. It’s a different style but I think the layout is great and I’m so happy to be in India.”
With four rounds of competitive golf under his belt already in Bangalore, the German adopted a slightly different approach to certain holes given his experience last week.
“I didn’t play seven or 18 well last week so I tried to play them a bit more conservatively today,” he said. “They are the most difficult holes on this course. I have a few birdie holes on my mind and the focus is to try and get pin high on every approach. It’s important to hit fairways on this course and I’ve done a good job of that so far.
“I think the key is to get it close with your approach shots because you hit a lot of wedges and short irons into the greens. If you strike them well, you can leave yourself a short putt and then it’s all about making them.
“It is new to me playing four rounds in a row; I’m really enjoying it and it’s good to get some confidence early on in the season.”
Eight players share fifth place on six-under par, including Spaniards Pep Angles, Ivan Cantero Gutierrez and Javier Sainz, Kartik Sharma and Mari Muthu R from India, England’s Marco Penge, Frenchman Tom Vaillant and Lars van Meijel, of the Netherlands.
The second round gets under way at 6.40am local time, with Hirmer teeing it up alongside India’s Khalin H Joshi and Frenchman Frederic Lacroix at 12.15pm.
- Full scoring HERE
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