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Pro performance puts McElroy in contention

Dermot McElroyDermot McElroy, who is going to Stage One of the European Tour Qualifying next month as an amateur, is playing a blinder in the Northern Ireland Open Challenge. Picture ©Getty ImagesBallymena’s Dermot McElroy belied his amateur status to charge into the top 20 at the Northern Ireland Open Challenge presented by Clannah and XJET, writes the European Challenge Tour.

With swirling, gusting winds blowing through the Galgorm Castle Golf Club in McElroy’s home town, the 20-year old carded a second round of one under par 70 to join Dubliner Neil O’Briain (70), Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell (69) and Derry’s Mick McGeady (72) as the leading Irishmen on five under – six shots behind leader Daan Huizing of The Netherlands.

McElroy played a lot of amateur golf with Huizing and is not surprised to se the 22-year old Dutchman flying high at the top of the leaderboard.

“The last two events I played with Daan he won them so I am not surprised to see his name up there said McElroy. He won the Lytham Trophy [by 11 shots] and the St Andrews Links Trophy by miles [14 shots from Alan Dunbar] and is just a quality player.

Daan HuizingDaan Huizing is in command at Galgorm Castle. Picture ©Getty Images“I played okay today – I hit the ball off the tee a lot better but I haven’t played as well as I usually can around here. Maybe I am just a little burnt out as I have played a lot of golf this summer, but hopefully I can make a move over the weekend.” 

McElroy, Caldwell, McGeady and O’Briain will be hoping to move up the leaderboard over the weekend as they head a nine-man Irish posse out of 27 starters to survive the one under par cut,

Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee (70-70), Niall Kearney (69-71), Galgorm Castle touring professional Gareth Shaw (68-72) and Mourne amateur Reeve Whitson (71 69) made it on two under with Waterville’s Mark Murphy (69-72) squeaking in on the mark.

But one man who won’t be making a move over the weekend is tournament ambassador Michael Hoey.

The five-time European Tour winner called a two-shot penalty on himself midway through his second round, and could not get back inside the cut line as he ended the day with a five over 76 for four over par total.

Playing the 11th hole at Galgorm, Hoey found his ball in thick rough.

“The ball moved a little bit in this thick clump of rough,” he explained. “I hadn’t grounded my club so I didn’t think it was a penalty but then I spoke to my partners and they were saying even if you didn’t ground the club it might still be a penalty.

“I wasn’t too comfortable with that so I spoke to one of the referees a few holes later and he basically said it was my call and I was 70 per cent sure that I had to call the penalty on myself.

“It’s a disappointing way to end really but I gave it everything I could today and just couldn’t do enough to make the cut.”

Peter O’Keeffee, Alan Dunbar and Colm Moriarty missed out by a shot on level par with Richard Kilpatrick and former Walker Cup player Paul Cutler alongside Hoey on four over.

As for Huizing, the young Dutchman, who reached Number Two on the Amateur World Rankings before turning professional, was in brilliant form as he posted a second round of five under 66 to move to 11 under for the week and into a three stroke lead over Sweden’s Jens Dantorp and Englishman Ross McGowan.

Despite the testing conditions, Huizing dropped just one shot on the first hole before producing a classy display of ball-striking and control to finish with three birdies in his last four holes to move clear of the field.

“The conditions were quite tough but I actually enjoy playing with a breeze like that because it helps me to focus and allows you to shape the ball and try to use the wind to your advantage in some ways,” said Huizing.

“I am swinging the club well and playing with confidence at the moment so hopefully I can keep that going over the weekend and try to get my first win on the Challenge Tour.”

Dantorp and McGowan both carded second round of two under 69 to share second place on eight under, with four players – Marcus Armitage, Andrew McArthur, Bernd Ritthammer and James Ruth – a further shot back.

Northern Ireland Open Challenge, Galgorm Castle (Par 71)

After 36 holes

131 D Huizing (Ned) 65 66;

134 J Dantorp (Swe) 65 69; R McGowan  (Eng) 65 69;

135 M Armitage (Eng) 70 65; B Ritthammer (Ger) 64 71; A McArthur  (Sco) 65 70; J Ruth  (Eng) 64 71;

136 M Crespi  (Ita) 67 69; D Im (USA) 67 69; G Houston (Wal) 67 69; B Hebert  (Fra) 67 69; O Wilson (Eng) 66 70; D Stewart (Sco) 70 66;

137 T Pilkadaris (Aus) 66 71; J Carlsson (Swe) 68 69; M McGeady (Irl) 65 72; N O’Briain (Irl) 67 70; J Caldwell  (Nir) 68 69; D McElroy (am) (Nir) 67 70;

138 J Mikkelsen (Nor) 69 69; J Heath  (Eng) 67 71; J Guerrier  (Fra) 68 70; D Perrier (Fra) 68 70; H Porteous (RSA) 68 70; C Russo (Fra) 67 71;

139 T Hatton (Eng) 67 72; B An (Kor) 68 71; P Widegren  (Swe) 67 72; D Vancsik (Arg) 69 70; N Lemke (Swe) 70 69; H Joannes  (Bel) 71 68; M Glauert (Ger) 70 69; N Dougherty  (Eng) 66 73; G Murray  (Sco) 67 72; A Johnston (Eng) 66 73; B Parker  (Eng) 68 71;

140 N Kearney (Irl) 69 71; R Kakko  (Fin) 70 70; G Shaw (Nir) 68 72; R McGee (Irl) 70 70; V Riu  (Fra) 70 70; J Lima  (Por) 70 70; L Goddard  (Eng) 69 71; M Ford (Eng) 71 69; S Kim (Kor) 69 71; F Calmels  (Fra) 69 71; R Whitson (am) (Nir) 71 69;

141 A Bernadet  (Fra) 71 70; J Barnes (Eng) 68 73; D Griffiths  (Eng) 68 73; G Stal  (Fra) 68 73; J Senior (Eng) 68 73; J Garcia Pinto (Esp) 70 71; R Steiner (Aut) 71 70; P Archer (Eng) 69 72; P Dwyer (Eng) 70 71; E Dubois (Fra) 72 69; T Nørret (Den) 66 75; S Walker (Eng) 71 70; M Murphy (Irl) 72 69; S Tiley (Eng) 70 71; J McLeary  (Sco) 66 75; N Ravano (Ita) 71 70;

CUT

142 D Dixon (Eng) 70 72; H Bateman (Nzl) 71 71; A Dunbar (Nir) 68 74; L Bjerregaard  (Den) 69 73; K Borsheim  (Nor) 73 69; C Moriarty (Irl) 69 73; T Remkes (Ned) 72 70; J Jeong (Kor) 69 73; T Sluiter  (Ned) 72 70; P O’Keeffe  (Irl) 74 68; N Elvira  (Esp) 74 68; L Richard (Bel) 72 70;

143 B Paolini (USA) 71 72; K Ferrie (Eng) 70 73; O Farr (Wal) 71 72; P Maddy (Eng) 72 71; C Hanson (Eng) 74 69; W Besseling  (Ned) 68 75; J Glennemo (Swe) 70 73; R Kellett (Sco) 66 77; J Abbott (Eng) 76 67; T Murray (Eng) 73 70; P Figueiredo  (Por) 72 71;

144 D Geminiani (Ita) 74 70; J Moul  (Eng) 74 70; J Lando Casanova  (Fra) 74 70; T Haylock  (Eng) 74 70; R Dinwiddie  (Eng) 72 72; P Edberg (Swe) 73 71; A Gee  (Eng) 75 69; J Doherty  (Sco) 68 76;

145 L Corfield  (Eng) 74 71; N Quintarelli (Ita) 75 70; R Russell (Sco) 68 77; T Fournier  (Fra) 72 73;

146 P Cutler (Nir) 74 72; C Brazillier  (Fra) 67 79; Å Nilsson (Swe) 69 77; R Kilpatrick (Nir) 74 72; A Domingo (Esp) 72 74; M Hoey  (Nir) 70 76; L Saltman (Sco) 73 73; F McGuirk  (Eng) 68 78; D Palm (Swe) 72 74;

147 B McCarroll  (Irl) 75 72; M Haines  (Eng) 74 73; S Choi (Kor) 80 67; C Aguilar  (Esp) 72 75; H Santos  (Por) 77 70; J Elson  (Eng) 74 73; O Whiteley (Eng) 73 74; D Mooney (Nir) 71 76; S Franklin (Irl) 76 71; A Velasco (Esp) 72 75; J Gibb (Eng) 73 74;

148 S Piaget  (Mon) 77 71; D Wuensche  (Ger) 73 75; C Devlin (Nir) 71 77; J Frazer (Wal) 75 73; J Fahrbring (Swe) 74 74; J Maurer  (Aut) 72 76; D Kemmer (USA) 74 74;

149 W Booth  (Sco) 72 77; D Coupland (Eng) 74 75; M Sell  (Eng) 74 75; E Saltman  (Sco) 75 74; S Forgan (Eng) 73 76; S Hutsby  (Eng) 72 77; S Campbell (Eng) 73 76;

150 J Howarth (Eng) 74 76; F Bergamaschi (Ita) 74 76; D Rawluk (Irl) 74 76; R Weldon (Irl) 72 78;

151 S Manley (Wal) 73 78; J Mommo  (Fin) 73 78; B Chapellan (Fra) 77 74;

152 C Molloy (Irl) 73 79; P Oriol (Esp) 76 76; C Ford (Eng) 72 80; J Timmis (Eng) 77 75; F Praegant Aut) 73 79; T Pulkkanen  (Fin) 72 80; A Rota (Ita) 76 76; F De Vries  (Ned) 71 81;

153 S Ward  (Nir) 79 74; N Turner (Irl) 75 78; L Reilly (Nir) 74 79;

157 D Leathem (Nir) 81 76;

158 A Perrino  (Ita) 78 80;

160 S O’Hara  (Sco) 78 82;

161 C Carroll (am) (Nir) 77 84;

172 S Wilson (Nir) 86 86;

** R Saxton (Ned) 76 RT;