Sport Golf

Sunday 19 November 2017

Struggling Murphy finds feet with tidy opening round in Mallorca

Gary Murphy plays his approach shot on the fourth hole. Photo: Getty Images
Gary Murphy plays his approach shot on the fourth hole. Photo: Getty Images

William S Callahan

GARY MURPHY finally got into the groove on the holiday isle of Mallorca yesterday as a first round 70 propelled him into a four-way tie for third place at Pula Golf Club.

Murphy has made the cut in just two of 11 Tour events this season as he struggled to find a suitable set of irons following a change in the rules governing club face grooves.

Yet, he waded straight into birdie action in balmy weather at the Mallorca Open yesterday morning, picking up four shots in his first seven holes on the tricky back nine of this Jose Maria Olazabal design.

Though Murphy then three-putted 18 and was back to level-par after a frustrating hat-trick of bogeys at two, three and four, he'd finish on a high note with further birdies at seven and eight.

"I took advantage of the fine weather early on and played lovely," said the Kilkennyman. "Then I hit a brick wall -- those bogeys came out of nowhere and it would have been really frustrating to finish level par. I've been well used to frustration this year. I've never struggled that much," added Murphy.

South Africa's James Kingston led by two after an opening 65. Damien McGrane (74), Colm Moriarty (74), and Paul McGinley (75) had to struggle with blustery winds. A bout of food-poisoning forced Simon Thornton to retire after five holes of his first round.

Meanwhile, an MRI scan has revealed "an inflamed facet joint" in the neck of Tiger Woods but the World No 1 is "still unable to say when he'll be able to return to competitive golf".

Elsewhere, Ballyliffin's Thomas Kearney shot an opening 79 in the Texas Open to lie 13 behind early leader Matt Jones of Australia.

IRELAND'S Rebecca Coakley had a one-under par 71 for a share of 16th at the German Ladies Open, four behind leader Iben Tinning. Hazel Kavanagh and Alison Walshe both shot 72, Tara Delaney shot 74 and Martina Gillen had a 76.

DES SMYTH was tied fourth on eight-under, five behind leader Bill Longmuir, entering today's final round of the Handa Senior Masters in Melton Mowbray. Smyth had a five-under 68. Denis O'Sullivan, who shot 75, was next best of the Irish. Grouped at eight-over were Christy O'Connor Jnr (78), Eddie Polland (76) and Jimmy Heggarty (74). Liam Higgins (75) was 13-over through 36.

Open Cala Millor Mallorca,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 10.30 & 3.30

Irish Independent

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