Chris Doak. Credit: Ewan Barry / Scottish Hydro ChallengeGary Murphy’s nightmare start to the season continued when he went from tied fourth overnight to missing the cut in the Scottish Hydro Challenge.

The Kilkenny man was brilliantly placed to give his year the kiss of life when he opened with a four under 67 at the Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Course.

But a four over par outward half of 39 undid him completely and while he birdied the 13th coming home, his three over 74 left him one shot outside the cut mark on one-under par.

World No 1078 Murphy has now missed the seven cuts out of seven this year - six of them on the Challenge Tour.

Simon Thornton missed out by seven shots after rounds of 72 and 75, leaving Glasson’s Colm Moriarty to challenge leader Chris Doak over the weekend.

The former Walker Cup player carded a second successive 69 to share 25th place on four under par.

Ranked 50th in the Challenge Tour rankings that gives European Tour cards to the top 20 at the end of the year, Moriarty is seven shots behind 33-year old Doak who added a 68 to his opening 63 to lead on 11 under.

The Team Scottish Hydro player looked like he was going to reduce the rest of the field into a battle for second spot early in the second round after three birdies in his opening four holes sent him six shots clear of the field.

But a problem with his driver – which saw the Scotsman cancel out four more birdies with a double and two single bogeys – saw that lead reduced to a single stroke over Portugal’s José Filipe Lima (64).

Despite his problem off the tee, Doak remained appropriately upbeat given the level of performance he achieved with the other 13 clubs in his bag. He can also rely upon the sound advice of coach Bob Torrance before he tees off in round three on Saturday afternoon.

“I did struggle with the driver off the tee today,” said Doak. “My fades were turning into slices so I got into a bit of trouble on the seventh and the 11th which I doubled.

“But it was much the same as yesterday apart from the driver going further right. I thought I had sorted the problem on the range last night but I clearly haven’t. I’ll need to get Bob a taxi up here tonight to try and help me out! I will be giving him a call tonight to see if he can sort me out.

“He can usually help you without seeing what you are doing. I think he just constantly thinks about the swings of all the guys that he works with, so if you say you are doing a certain thing he can usually dive into the memory bank and give you something to work with.

“But it really is just the driver – from the rescue through to the putter is great, and the putter is still the big difference. I just kept to my Jason Day routine and it seems to be working well.  I’m in a good position but I just have to keep on going and see what happens on Sunday.”

Lima is hugely excited about the coming weekend as the Portuguese continues his comeback to the top level after a turbulent year last season that saw him change his coach no less than five times.

“It was a lovely day out there,” he said. “I played great and made only two mistakes which led to the bogey and the double bogey. Two bad drives got me into trouble there but apart from that the game was very good.

“I had a very bad year last year – I changed coaches five times before I finally went back to my first coach that I had when I was on The European Tour. His name is Beniot Willemart, who I had worked with for 13 years before last year.

“It got a bit out of control I suppose. I just kept trying a new guy and couldn’t get comfortable. The more times you do that then the less confidence you have but I am happy to be back with Beniot and the swing is becoming more solid every day. We all know golf and that is making me more confident so it is an encouraging time for me finally.”