Archive for August 11th, 2017

Murray breezes in to share of Ballymena lead

MANCHESTER’S Tom Murray and Scotland-based Ross Kellett share the halfway lead of the Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open presented by Modest! Golf after both tackling very different conditions in Ballymena.

Out in the morning, Kellett played in rain reminiscent of his native highlands, his birdie-birdie finish taking him to eight under par after an impressive five under par second round of 66.

Murray’s round, by contrast, was mostly in sunshine, though a stiffer breeze had picked up in the afternoon, but the his second successive 67 took him into a share of the lead at Galgorm Castle.

Kellett finished in the top 20 on his last outing in Sweden two weeks ago and he acknowledged that, with the European Challenge Tour season now beyond the halfway point, he needs a strong result soon.

Murray, meanwhile, knows how to win on Irish soil, his sole Challenge Tour victory to date having come two years ago at the Irish Challenge, and he too is looking forward to the weekend’s contest.

“I don’t know what it is about Ireland but whether it’s south of the border or here up north, it seems to bring out the best in me,” said the 27 year old aon of former European Tour winner Andrew.

“The course set up here is probably the best of the year and it feels like a European Tour event, so that helps boost everything, and everything around the event is so good, and I’m playing well and putting well, the greens are perfect, so it’s so far so good.

“I’ve been playing allright this year, nothing terrible but nothing fantastic, so you’d always back yourself to have a really good week at some stage.

“I was talking to Dominic Foos today on the course about the Shootout Sunday and we were saying how it’s hard, because at the moment it’s just playing like a normal tournament, so we don’t know what to expect really.

“You’ve just got to approach tomorrow how you normally would and go and try to win the tournament, all the boring stuff, shot by shot, then see where we are come Sunday and see what happens.”

Fleetwood three behind in US PGA championship

TOMMY Fleetwood is three shots of the pace after posting a one-under-par 70 on the first day of the US PGA Championship as Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen led the way alongside American Kevin Kisner.

The Lancastrian said: “The course is brutal, It’s a really tough test. Anything par or beating the course is a great score. So in the practice rounds, it’s either playing rock hard and windy or it’s been really wet with the rain and playing miles.

“So when you get into the tournament, you never know what to expect. I’m just really happy to be off the course at one-under.

“There’s not a let-up, really. You’ve never got one shot where you kind of feel you can go easy for ten minutes or you have a little rest. It’s just five hours of really tough golf.”

Olesen is aiming to become the first player from Denmark to win one of golf’s big four and entered this week in good form after a top ten at last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he finished with a 65.

A birdie at the second hole got his round up and running before he bounced back from a bogey at the par three sixth with back-to-back birdies. Three birdies in his final five holes, paired with a second dropped shot of the day at the 17th, took the four-time European Tour winner home in 34 for a 67.

On a day when only 24 players broke par at a tricky Quail Hollow Club, Patrick Reed was the next best-placed European Tour member in a tie for eighth on two under par, while Spain’s John Rahm, Pat Perez of the USA and England’s Jordan Smith matched Fleetwood’s scores,

Rory McIlroy, chasing a third US PGA Championship title and a fifth Major, was two shots further back after three dropped shots in two holes on the back nine stymied his charge and left him with a one over par 72 – alongside Grand Slam-chasing American Jordan Spieth, among others.