A strong finish saw Rosslare’s Paul Murphy shoot back-to-back rounds in the 60s and head into the final round in contention for a first professional victory, with fellow countryman Ronan Mullarney three further adrift on -8.
A University of Montevallo, Alabama graduate, Murphy returned to Ireland last year and qualified at Alps Tour Q-School last November, and his opening eight-under round, which included seven birdies and an eagle – was his best round on the circuit to date, but he knew that he’d have to back it up with another good round on Tuesday if he was to give himself any chance of securing victory.
And he started in perfect fashion by birdieing the par-5 first before adding another at the par-4 sixth. Back-to-back bogeys followed due to wayward tee shots, and though he’d pick up another shot at the 10th, he’d immediately give it back again on the next. In danger of letting a good round get away from him, he regrouped over the closing seven holes to post three birdies without any dropped shots, reaching the clubhouse at -3 for the day and -11 overall.
“The toughest round of golf you play is trying to put in a solid one after you’ve just had a low one,” Murphy said afterwards. “That’s just the nature of golf. You’re trying to replicate what you did on the previous day, but the conditions, the environment, the pin locations, all of that changes, but it’s more psychological rather than ability-wise. You know that you have the game, but you’ve got to take it each hole and each shot at a time and progress from there.
Coming into the final day in a tie for fifth, Murphy is on course to post his best finish of the season, beating the sixth place finish he posted at the Gösser Open in Austria in early May, and the course clearly suits his eye.
“I love these kind of greens,” he explained, “and I putt well on them because I see lines easier and I’ve got my putting stroke at a consistent rate. When they match up, you get a lot of confidence.
“The key here though are the par-5s. The ball is going so far and I think my longest club into one of them yesterday was 9-iron. If you get your drives away then you’re going to score well on them.”
Having just flown in from Andalucía the previous afternoon, Murphy, like much of the field, were playing the course semi-blind and with minor fatigue in the sapping Tenerife heat, and after bogeying the 11th to drop back to level for the day, he took a moment to reset and refocus for the closing seven holes.
“I three-putted the 11th,” he admitted, “and I realised I’d just lost focus, so there’s a toilet on the way to the 12th tee so I went in there and splashed water on my face and asked myself what I was doing. Splashing water on your face is a great way to decrease anxiety and pressure, but it was also really hot so it helped me cool down physically as well, so I just managed to reset and finish strong from there.”
Playing a couple of groups behind, Ronan Mullarney matched his opening 67 with another four-under-par round to end the day tied for 12th at -8. Birdies at the 10th and 18th helped him to the turn at -2, and despite a bogey at the first, three more birdies followed at five, six and nine, he’s primed for a final day assault. Though victory may seem a little out of reach at this stage, ranked second in the Order of Merit and with five Challenge Tour cards up for grabs, each birdie could prove vital come the end of the season, so he’ll be targeting a strong closing round.
Italian Gianmaria Rean Trinchero came roaring through the field to take the lead going into the final round. He’d fire seven birdies and an eagle on his way to a nine-under 62 to lead German Christian Braunig by one with England’s Jack Floydd one further adrift on -13.