McGrane on the prowl in Africa Open birdie shoot
Damien McGrane made six birdies in an opening 67 in the Africa Open. Picture: David Lloyd /

Damien McGrane made six birdies in an opening 67 in the Africa Open. Picture: David Lloyd /

How low can you go? On a day when 110 players in the Africa Open field broke par, it appears that Waterford Castle's Kevin Phelan may have to shoot another sub-par round just to make his first cut of 2014.

The 23-year old rookie hit every fairway and missed just two greens at East London Golf Club but after getting to three under thanks to a birdie at the fifth and an eagle two at the sixth, he went bogey-birdie-bogey from the 11th and posted a two-under 69 that left him just inside the projected cut mark.

That Damien McGrane shot a four-under 67 and still found himself tied for 30th, five shots behind Portugal's Ricardo Santos (62), says it all about the standard of play on the European Tour these days.

Santos dominated in windy afternoon conditions to take a two-stroke lead over Garth Mulroy, Rhys Davies, Lucas Bjerregaard and Richard Bland.

“It was a good round today," said Santos, the2012 Madeira Islands Open winner. "I played really solidly today and gave myself a lot of chances for birdie, and I took a lot of those chances. I’m very pleased to make a run like I did.

“The weather is awesome — warm, but with a breeze. If the wind blows this is a very tough course, but today if you put the ball in the fairway you had the chance to shoot a low round.

“Tomorrow I need to just enjoy another day. I’ll try my best on every shot and see what happens, because it’s difficult to follow up a low round like this with another low one."

Michael Hoey will have been pleased to keep a bogey off his card as he posted a three-under 68 but a double bogey in a 70 left David Higgins struggling in 92nd spot while Gareth Maybin also had a double and three bogeys in a 71 with a share of 111th on level par.