Back-nine blitz gives Purcell edge in 'West'
Portmarnock's Conor Purcell scorched home in 30 blows en route to a five-under 66 and a one-shot lead in the Radisson Blu-sponsored West of Ireland Championship at County Sligo.
The 21-year-old world number 26 was level-par through the turn but caught fire coming home to edge past 17-year-old boys international Max Kennedy from Royal Dublin in the first 72-hole strokeplay staging of the 'West'.
"It's a good start," said Purcell, who was out in level-par.
"I putted very well today, and I was very comfortable with my irons and didn't hit too many bad tee shots.
"I finished off nicely and shot five-under on the back nine which was good. I couldn't really have asked for anything better."
The wind was not a huge factor and Purcell rolled in a 25-footer at the 11th, two-putted the par-five 12th and then sank a 30-footer for a two at the 13th to get to three-under.
An eight-iron to 15 feet set up a two at the downwind 16th before he slotted a home a five-footer at the last to overtake Kennedy at the top.
The boys international made seven birdies in his 67 before saving par from 10 feet and five feet on the last two greens.
Defending champion Robert Brazill birdied the last three holes as he posted a three-under 68 to share third place with Castleknock's Paul Coughlan, who holed a seven-iron for an eagle two at the tough seventh.
"It was a nice way to finish," said Brazill, who reduced the downwind 17th to a drive and a wedge.
"It would be lovely to defend the title because four rounds of stroke play wouldn't be my forte."