Saturday, July 13, 2024

McElroy goes low as six Irish see weekend action at Challenge Tour’s Open de Bretagne – Irish Golfer Magazine

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Irish interest is in healthy supply for the final two rounds of the Blot Open de Bretagne, as six of the seven who started the tournament find themselves on the right side of the 36-hole cutline.

Dermot McElroy, Ruaidhri McGee, Alex Maguire, Ronan Mullarney, Jonathan Caldwell and Mark Power are all through, but Paul Dunne, who struggled badly on day one, withdrew before the second round.

McElroy’s round was by far the pick of the bunch, however, as he made amends for an opening four-over 74 with a blistering seven-under 63 on day two that featured an eagle, eight birdies and three bogeys, and he joins McGee on -3 after the Derry man shot a level-par 70.

Mullarney and Maguire are a shot further back at -2. Galway native Mullarney shot a bogey-free 66, while rookie pro Maguire made his first cut on the Challenge Tour thanks to back-to-back 69s.

Jonathan Caldwell shot matching rounds of 70 to make the cut on the number at level-par alongside Mark Power who made six birdies enroute to a three-under 67.

Björn Åkesson posted an eight under par round of 62 to take a three-shot lead into the weekend at Golf Bluegreen de Pléneuf Val André.

The Swede carded two birdies and one bogey on his front nine to make the turn at one under par, before bursting into life on the back nine with back-to-back eagles at the tenth and 11th holes.

Four more gains and a single bogey coming in put him in pole position on 13 under, three clear of countryman Per Längfors and Denmark’s Jeppe Kristian Andersen in second.

“I was quite steady off the tee today and then my putter was really hot, similar to yesterday,” he said. “It was great to make two eagles today and hole ten is a tricky hole. I hit a three-wood onto the green today and made the three-metre putt which was great.

“On hole 11 I hit a good drive and then only had a nine-iron into the par five, which I hit to about five metres and made the putt.

“My putting was the strongest part of my game today and I was steady throughout the day. I managed to keep the ball out of trouble and take advantage with my wedges.

“I tend to play well on tight courses because I am quite accurate. I don’t necessarily enjoy these kinds of courses, but I think it suits my game. It’s crucial to keep the ball in play off the tee and then if you can get the ball rolling on the greens, there are lots of birdie opportunities out there.”

The 35-year-old retired in 2017 after losing his DP World Tour playing privileges and falling out of love with the game, however he returned to the Challenge Tour this year after a stellar 2023 which saw him earn promotion by topping the Nordic Golf League Order of Merit.

Åkesson has impressed so far on the 2024 Road to Mallorca, including a maiden Challenge Tour victory at the NMB Championship in South Africa, and he credited a change in his putting strategy as being key to his strong form.

“My game is feeling really good at the moment, and I have done a lot of work on my putting,” he said. “I have started lining the ball up which has made a big difference and it’s good to see the ball dropping this year.”

Englishman John Parry sits in fourth position on nine under par, while Frenchman Benjamin Hébert and Kristoffer Reitan of Norway are a shot further back in fifth.

Norwegian Mats Ege will play the weekend in Brittany after carding the low round of the day, a ten under par 60, which was a 19-shot improvement from his nine over par opening round of 79.

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