With the top 70 and ties advancing to an additional two rounds tomorrow and Thursday, Ballymoney’s Michael Hoey is best placed on one-over despite a disastrous six-over round of 76 on the supposedly easier Tour Course.
Indeed, on a day where blue and black numbers to denote bogeys and doubles (or worse) congested the leaderboard, Hoey haemorrhaged a staggering six shots in four consecutive front-nine holes to see his five-under score wiped out in an hour.
Three birdies on the back nine did little to disguise the damage and he knows if he’s to survive the cull today he’ll need a sub-par round just to stay two more days.
With only the top 25 and ties guaranteeing playing rights on the lucrative European Tour next season, the next best placed of the Irish is 25-year-old Rosapenna man Ruaidhrí McGee who showed real maturity in extremely blustery conditions yesterday.
McGee carded a fine 72 for a level par round and that left him on three-over.
Seven pars and a birdie were only tarnished by a bogey on seven after which two more birdies were cancelled out by as many bogeys.
He scanned the leaderboard for an age afterwards before eventually taking a well-deserved seat beside the practice range.
“It was very windy out there so I’m happy enough,” he exhaled.
“I could have played better but just because it was so windy didn’t change it for me. I grew up in links courses so hopefully it keeps blowing for the rest of the week,” he added cheerfully.
“Once I saw the weather in the morning I just said I’d see what I could do. It’s hard because you can’t be thinking about tearing it up. You just go out and see what happens.”
Interestingly, McGee was one of the very last players to guarantee himself an entry for this week.
But despite squeaking in as a lowly-placed reserve after the second stage of qualifying a week previous, it mattered little.
“It doesn’t matter how you get here, as long as you get here and if you do you’ve got a chance.
“I could have won the second round of qualifying last weekend but we all start from the same place this week.
“There’s a long week there yet, I have to just relax and take it easy,” he said as nonchalantly as you like.
Meanwhile, the remaining two Irish require a miracle if they’re to make the cut today.
Waterford men Gary Hurley and Kevin Phelan were playing partners yesterday on the Stadium Course but found the going tough, with rounds of 78 and 76 the best they could manage.
Hurley is currently on five-over after an erratic round that featured six bogeys – five on the front, while Phelan is two shots further back on seven-over.
To be fair, only 15 players were under par for their rounds yesterday and neither joint leaders Robert Coles and Richard McEvoy were among them.
They’re both on nine-under with former US PGA Championship winner YE Yang producing a stunning five-under to storm back into contention on the same score.