Opening 68s for O’Rourke and McBride as Ruuska makes Challenge Tour history

Conor Cantwell

Paul McBride (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Getty Images)

The Irish duo of Conor O’Rourke and Paul McBride shot opening rounds of 68 which leaves them on three-under-par, nine shots back of the Finish leader, Lauri Ruuska who shot an incredible 59.

Conor O’Rourke started his round strongly with a birdie on the second but would lose a shot on the 17th before starting his back nine.

The final nine holes are where 32-year-old O’Rourke came into his own as he birdied the first and made back-to-back birdies on the fifth and sixth to finish the day on three-under-par after a bogey-free route home.


Paul McBride’s round was far more varied but he started strongly as he made his way to three-under-par, tied with his fellow countryman.

Birdies on the first and third left McBride on two-under through three holes and a birdie on the ninth prepared him nicely for the back nine with a bogey at the sixth the only blemish on his scorecard at the turn.

After another birdie on the 11th, the 27-year-old was unable to improve on his impressive play as he followed up birdies on the 13th and 16th with bogeys on the 14th and 17th, meaning McBride’s up-and-down round left him tied for 23rd.

In other Irish interest, Conor Purcell and Rowan Lester are just two shots behind the duo of O’Rourke and McBride after the first day of play, with both players scoring 70 in the opening round and are tied for 68th on one-under.

The leader after the first day, Lauri Ruuska, was in imperious form back in his homeland as the Finnish golfer turned in a bogey-free round of 59, leaving him four shots clear of his nearest rivals in second.

Ruuska began the day with a barrage of birdies between the 10th to the 14th as the Finnish golfer shot four-under on his opening four holes, with consecutive birdies on the 17th and 18th setting up Ruuska nicely for an enjoyable back nine.

And the 29-year-old was even happier as he began his way back to the clubhouse with an eagle on the first – and four birdies in his final eight holes capped off a historic round of golf for the Finn.

Ruuska is now just the fourth golfer to shoot a round below 60 on the Challenge Tour and he expressed how excited he was to be part of such an illustrious group after his round today.

“It sounds pretty amazing to be part of the 59 club. Honestly, I knew it was going to be a low-scoring week and I saw myself being able to do it, but I didn’t quite believe it. Where else would you want to shoot a 59? Maybe at a Major Championship, but to do it at home is really special.”

The commanding Finnish golfer finished four shots clear of Scottish player Jack McDonald and fellow countryman Kristian Kulokorpi on eight under par, with America’s Cole Madey and Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg a further shot back on -7.


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