Horrendous weather conditions at the Mount Wolseley Resort to wreaked havoc with scoring in the second round of the Volopa Irish Challenge and scattered the Irish bid for a home victory to the four winds.
The wind and rain throughout yesterday’s play in Co Carlow ruined scorecards from the top of the leaderboard down, leaving only four of the 22 Irish players on the right side of the halfway cut of this European Challenge Tour event.
Englishman Sam Walker lost his 18-hole lead after dropping three strokes to three under par after a second-round 75, usurped by compatriot Stiggy Hodgson, whose two-under 70 moved him up to four under and was one of the rare glints of sunshine on an otherwise miserable day.
Rhys Enoch of Wales shot the round of the day, a five-under-par 67, to leap into a share of second place with Walker at three under, a shot behind Hodgson.
Dermot McElroy was the only Irishman to post an under-par round, the newly-minted professional from Ballymena carding a one-under 71 that catapulted him from outside the projected cutline of two over at the start of the round into the top 20, five off the lead.
Neil Ó Briain’s level-par 72 lifted him 49 places on the leaderboard into a tie for 33rd at two over with former Walker Cup hero Cormac Sharvin as surprised as anyone to find himself in for the weekend after a second-round 77 sent him to four over.
In the first group out yesterday morning, Sharvin finished his day’s work he was prepared for an early exit, two shots outside the projected cutline but as the weather deteriorated further, the cut moved to five over.
That was enough to keep Chris Selfridge in for the weekend despite his 74, but the Irish casualties were greater than the number of survivors.
Meanwhile, England’s Mark Foster will head into the weekend at the KLM Open just a shot off the lead after firing an impressive second-round 66 at The Dutch yesterday.
The 41-year-old lost his playing privileges last season after spending 13 years inside the European Tour’s top 110 and is battling to regain his card at 156th in the Race to Dubai.
The 300,000 points on offer for a win this week would move him comfortably back inside the top 100 but he will have to overcome a strong field if he is to lift the trophy in Spijk.
Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, a three-time winner on Tour, shot a second consecutive 66 to take the lead at 10 under and sit a shot ahead of Foster, Italy’s Nino Bertasio and local favourite Joost Luiten.
“I am getting back to my best,” said Foster.
“I haven’t had as many playing opportunities this year but when I can play I am enjoying it. I have been out here a long time and I am a lot more chilled out than I was in my prime. I certainly don’t sit at home crying about not being able to play - and my wife wouldn’t let me do that anyway!”
Luiten delighted the home crowd with a 64 that was the low round of the week so far, while Bertasio held a share of the lead stood on the 18th tee but bogeyed the last in a 67.
Ireland’s Paul Dunne shot a magnificent seven-under par 64 to move to four-under.
In the US, Rory McIlroy had an up and down day. The Holywood man returned to finish the final eight holes of his first round, starting with a bogey on the 11th but finding two further birdies in the last four holes to card a four-under par 68.
In the second round, McIlroy failed to find momentum, as four birdies were cancelled out by four bogeys for an even-par 72, to leave him at four-under overall, in a tie for 19th place.
The lead was jointly held by Roberto Castro and Dustin Johnson of the US on 14-under par, with last week’s runner-up Paul Casey again showing well on 11-under.
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