Golf round-up: Conor Purcell takes share of the lead in Irish Challenge at Headfort

Pádraig Harrington moves into top 20 at Senior Open Championship after carding a 68

Conor Purcell impressively motored into a share of the lead in the Irish Challenge at Headfort Golf Club in Kells, Co Meath on Friday.

The 26-year-old from Malahide had finished like a train in the first round with five straight birdies and brought that momentum into the second round, where he birdied three of his opening four holes and eventually signed for a 67 which left him in a share of the midway lead with England’s Brandon Robinson Thompson on nine-under-par 133.

Former Walker Cup player Purcell is targeting a breakthrough win on the Challenge Tour in also aiding his quest to step up to the main DP World Tour. And while the victory is the main target heading into the weekend, there is also the added potential bonus of earning a place in next month’s Horizon Irish Open, which will be awarded to the leading Irish player.

“There is a long way to go. Hopefully I can keep going and see where it leaves me,” said Purcell, whose best result so far this season was tied-sixth in the Dimension Data pro-am in South Africa back in February.

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Meanwhile, Pádraig Harrington moved from the cutline into the top-20 of the Senior Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl, where the 51-year-old Dubliner followed up an opening round 75 with a 68 to reach the midpoint on 143, one-over-par.

Harrington cited “tiredness” – following on from playing the Scottish Open and the 151st Open and straight on to Senior Open – for his decision-making in a round of 68 that featured a bit of everything with an eagle, six birdies, two double-bogeys and a bogey.

Cruising at five under on his round through eight holes, Harrington noticed some mud on his ball in playing the ninth. “There’s an out-of-bounds left of the green and I just worried about it and blocked it right. Didn’t hit a good chip, didn’t hit a good bunker shot and didn’t hit a good putt,” he said of running up a double-bogey there to stall his momentum.

“It was nice to make an eagle down the last and get something out of the round,” said Harrington, who has to play catch-up going into the weekend, trailing 36-hole leader Steven Alker by five shots.

Defending Champion Darren Clarke and Lough Erne professional Damian Mooney made the cut, both on five over in tied-59th.

In the Amundi Evian Championship in France, Leona Maguire endured a tough finish – double-bogeying the 16th and bogeying the 18th, after getting a fried egg lie in a bunker – in signing for a second round 73 for 143, one-over-par, that left her in tied-28th.

Stephanie Meadow also made the cut, signing for a second round 76 for 145 in tied 52nd.

Celine Boutier, carrying home hopes, added a 69 to her opening round 66 to claim the halfway lead on seven-under-par 135, a shot clear of Patty Tavatanakit and Yuka Saso.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times