Sport Golf

Monday 24 June 2019

O'Briain drives on after qualifying journey from 'hell'


Team Ireland's Neil O’Briain
Team Ireland's Neil O’Briain

Brian Keogh

Team Ireland's Neil O'Briain put a nightmarish 1,200km drive behind him to qualify for this week's Dimension Data Pro-Am on the Sunshine Tour.

The Dubliner (31) and his local caddie Patrick drove more than 12 hours overnight from Johannesburg to the outskirts of George straight after finishing tied 36th in last week's Eye of Africa PGA Championship, where he was also a qualifier.

"It was hell," O'Briain said after shooting a three-under 69 at Fancourt's Montagu course to tie for second in a race for 15 spots in this week's event.

"We had all doors closed and locked but we had this beeping noise for the entire journey. I nearly lost my mind!

"It's been a long few weeks on the road between the pre-qualifiers, practice rounds and tournaments and arriving in last week from California. But it's all part and parcel of professional golf, I suppose."

On the Alps Tour, Castleknock's David Carey fired a six-under 66 to share the first-round lead with Italians Michele Ortolani and Filippo Bergamaschi in the Ein Bay Open at Sokhna Golf Club in Egypt. Galgorm Castle's Michael Dallat is joint ninth after a 70 with Naas' Conor O'Rourke 34th after a 73 and The Island's Kevin Le Blanc last with an 83.

Five-time European Tour winner Michael Hoey is tied fourth after opening with a five-under 67 on the Stadium Course in the ECCO Tour's €50,000 Mediter Real Estate Masters at PGA Catalunya.

Naas' Jack Hume is 46th after a one-over 73 with Ardglass' Cormac Sharvin 71st after a 75 and Moyola Park's Chris Selfridge 101st after a 78 as Sweden's Jesper Kennegard shot an eight-under 62 to lead by a stroke from compatriot Martin Granstad and Finn Miro Veijalainen.

In amateur golf, Kilkenny's Mark Power bogeyed his last three holes but still carded a level-par 72 to head the eight-strong Irish challenge in the African Amateur Stroke Play Championship on slick greens Glendower Golf Club in South Africa.

The two-time Irish Boys champion is tied for 14th, five strokes behind Frenchman Frédéric LaCroix.

Caolan Rafferty, Alex Gleeson and Robin Dawson are tied 18th after 73s with Tiarnan McLarnon next best of the Irish in joint 27th after a 74.

Irish Independent

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