Thursday, May 30, 2024

Purcell just one back in title chase in Abu Dhabi – News – Irish Golf Desk

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Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell lies just a shot off the lead as he bids for his maiden win in the Abu Dhabi Challenge tomorrow.

The former Walker Cup star (26) fired a bogey-free, six-under 64 to share fourth place behind England’s Garrick Porteous, South Africa’s Wilco Nienaber and France’s Alexander Levy at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club.

Porteous and Levy also posted six under-par 64s to climb to the top of the leaderboard on 17 under par before big-hitting Nienaber joined them at the summit after carding a four-under 66.

“More of the same tomorrow,” said Purcell, who is driving the ball well and holing his share of putts. “Head down and try and execute shots.”

UAE resident Porteous highlighted his strong approach play as the key to this week’s success in Al Ain.

“My approach play has been a lot better this week than it has been”, he said. “I’ve been making the most of my opportunities that have been presented to me.

“It’s quite an accessible golf course and generous off the tee, so you’ve got to be very dialled in with your second shots.

“I did it really well yesterday. I think I had five or six that were pretty much stiff, and then I had a couple today. It always makes life easier.”

Overnight leader Nienaber, who carded a course record ten under par second round of 60, was pleased to maintain his position at the top of the leaderboard despite missing several birdie putts in round three.

“I definitely left a few out there today, but I didn’t make any bogeys and overall, I played very solid,” he said.

“I wasn’t too sure what to expect today after going so low yesterday. I tried to focus on each hole at a time, and I’m happy with four under par; I think it’s a good score.

“I’m excited for the final round tomorrow. I know I could have gone lower today and I’m looking to convert some more of those chances in round four.”

The leading trio is one shot ahead of Purcell, Dane Nicolai Kristensen and South African Oliver Bekker.

England’s John Parry sits in seventh position at 15 under par, while Englishman Curtis Knipes, Spaniard Quim Vidal and Danes Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen and Sebastian Friedrichsen are a shot further back in eighth.

Round four begins at 3:30 am Irishtime on Sunday, with Purcell off at 5:20 am Irish time with Bekker and Kristensen.

West Waterford’s Gary Hurley is tied for 44th on eight-under after a 67 with Dermot McElroy (72) and Daniel Mulligan (67) a shot further back in 49th.

Mount Juliet’s Mark Power lies 73rd on one-under after a third-round 73.

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