O’Rourke and McElroy in contention in Abu Dhabi

Ronan MacNamara

Conor O Rourke (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Bradley Bawden, John Parry, Nicolai Kristensen and Sebastian Friedrichsen all posted seven under par rounds of 63 to share a one-shot lead heading into day two of the Abu Dhabi Challenge at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club.

Just two shots back however, is the K Club’s Conor O’Rourke who roared out of the blocks with a bogey free round of 65.

The Naas man carded four birdies in seven holes on the back nine and found another on the par-4 4th as he made the turn for home.

O’Rourke had to battle a flooded hotel room during the catastrophic thunderstorm that drowned out the UAE on Tuesday and he was full of praise of the condition of the golf course.

“It was a nice day’s work, we were out early, not whole lot of wind the greens and course were incredible especially with the turnaround after the rain. The fairways and greens are flawless it’s like it never rained so we had lovely conditions. It was nice to get off to a steady start.

“You have to do everything, there is space off the tee but at times it pinches in to shoot good scores you need to be hitting it in front of you. The greens are beautiful and you can hole putts if you can read them.

“It’s beautiful out here, the weather we had today and the next couple of days is what you expect out here. What we arrived to on Tuesday is what it’s been like in Ireland. The bunkers were full to the brim with water when we were practicing so credit to the course staff for getting the course in perfect condition.”

This is just O’Rourke’s second start of the Challenge Tour campaign so rightly he is taking each tournament one week at a time.

“I’ll get into the majority of events via Sport Ireland and my category so I’ll prepare for each week as it comes and try my best each day.”

One shot behind O’Rourke and three off the lead is Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy who opening with a 66.

McElroy took six weeks off from competing but remarkably only played golf four times during that period due to the wet conditions Ireland continues to experience.

“My game is in good shape, drove it well, iron play was pretty good and I holed a few putts. Driving it on the fairway was key and the greens are quite firm so you need to control your spin.

“It’s great to be here I took six weeks off and only played four times at home because the weather was so bad so it’s great to be out here and playing some good courses.”

Daniel Mulligan impressed on his first start of the season with a three-under 67 to go level with Gary Hurley while Conor Purcell a shot further back.

Ronan Mullarney carded an opening 69 while Mark Power and John Murphy are level-par. Jonathan Caldwell has work to do to make the cut from one-over.

Scoring HERE


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