Ronan Mullarney’s strong start to the Alps Tour campaign continues after the Galway man shot an opening round of three-under to join a three-way tie for the lead at the end of day one end of day one, with Paul McBride hot on his heels.
After a win and a fourth-place finish in his last two Alps Tour starts, Mullarney came into the week second on the Alps Tour’s Order of Merit and was targeting another strong finish at the Open de la Mirabelle d’Or 2023 at Golf de La Grange aux Ormes in Metz, in north eastern France.
And he’d start in the perfect fashion with a birdie on the tenth, his opening hole, and added another at the 13th. Two bogeys back-to-back on 14 and 15 put the brakes on, but he’d respond in perfect fashion as he rolled in another birdie putt at the par-3 16th and would make the turn at one-under.
A bogey at the third was the only blemish on the front nine, carding birdies at the first, sixth and eighth holes to move to the top of the leaderboard.
“The course is playing really tough,” Mullarney said afterwards, “the rough goes from normal to hip-high very fast and the fairways are like concrete so you could even hit the middle of the fairway and finish in the rubbish, so I’m trying to stay as patient as possible and just keep it on the short grass.
“I’m happy enough with how I played, just relying on my short game, chipping and putting. I hit everything from 8-iron, 7-iron, 6-iron off the tee. Didn’t hit many drivers out there, like I said, you’re giving up ball control if you hit driver. But yeah, more of that over the next few days and I’ll be a happy man.”
Another happy man is McBride, who sits one off the pace at -2. On a day where the entire field were making bogeys galore, the Malahide man just made one, with birdies coming at the eighth, tenth and 16th holes, and he lies in a four-way tie for fourth.
Unfortunately, the opening round wasn’t as kind to James Sugrue, Paul Murphy and Michael Young, however, with rounds of +4, +5 and +6 respectively seeing the trio each in need of something special if they’re to make the 36-hole cut ahead of Sunday’s final round.