Sunday 15 September 2019

Quinlan happy to set the pace as he takes overnight lead in Irish PGA

Bunclody Golf and Fishing Club
Bunclody Golf and Fishing Club

Brian Keogh

Steven Quinlan opened with an immaculate 68, but a host of quality players are snapping at his heels after the opening round of the 109th Irish PGA Championship at Bunclody Golf and Fishing Club.

Quinlan (29) broke out a set of old irons and found some timely form, knocking in four birdies to lead by one stroke from Kilkenny's Jimmy Bolger and 2017 champion Tim Rice from Limerick on four-under-par.

"I always seem to play well coming into August," said Quinlan. "The last couple of rounds I have been striking it well, but I have been making some silly mistakes.

"Today, everything worked pretty well. I think I missed only two greens and I hit it pin high quite a lot. It's playing long, but we're placing, so it's not too bad."

Colm Moriarty from Glasson, 2016 winner Damien McGrane and Donegal man Brian McElhinney are lurking just two shots behind Quinlan after carding 70s.

"That was a nice solid start, I'm happy with that," said Rice. "It's a great test of golf, a proper course."

Bolger, a Carlow native, was four under after 10 holes, but a bogey at the par-five 18th cost him a share of the lead. "I maybe didn't play great, but I scored well," said Bolger, who would love to add the Irish title to his list of achievements as well as the winner's €3,600 share of the €24,000 prize fund.

The top 50 and ties will qualify for tomorrow's final round, but there's no cut at the megabucks Tour Championship in Atlanta, where the winner will take home a cool $15milllion from the $70m FedEx Cup bonus pool.

The 30 players in action in the season-ending race for the FedExCup will split $46m - $15m for the winner, $5m for the runner-up, $4m for third, $3m for fourth and $2.5m for fifth.

Rory McIlroy will start in fifth, five shots behind Justin Thomas under the new handicapping system brought in this year.

The player finishing last will pocket $395,000 and while Shane Lowry missed out on the play-offs, his 33rd-place finish in the FedEx Cup was worth a $190,000 bonus on top of the $23,865 he won for finishing tied 48th in the BMW Championship in Chicago.

There's just €290,000 on offer at the Challenge Tour's limited field Rolex Trophy, which starts in Geneva today. But it's a huge event for the players trying to make the top 15 in the rankings who will be awarded European Tour cards after the season-ending Grand Final.

With €30,150 on offer for the winner, Team Ireland's Cormac Sharvin could move up from ninth to fourth in the rankings with a maiden win and take a huge step towards claiming his ticket to the big time.

Irish Independent

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