Order of Merit winner John Kelly produced a storming finish to keep his victory hopes alive after the first round of the 54-hole PGA Play-Offs at Antalya Golf Club in Turkey.
The St Margaret’s professional, who won the Irish Region money list for the second time in his career this year, was two over par with four holes to play but picked up three birdies coming home to end the day just four shots off the lead after a one under 70. Scores
The Dubliner birdied the 15th, 16th and 18th to grab a share of ninth place as England’s Matt Ford shrugged off a bizarre ball theft share the lead with compatriot Matt Cort.
The 35-year-old was four under par playing the par five 16th when a crow snatched his ball from a bunker and flew off.
He was required to drop a replacement which promptly plugged but he splashed out to save par before another gain on the last hole gave him a five-under-par 66 and share of the lead.
Ballylifin’s Damian is tied for 18th in the 24 man field after a two over 73 with Brian McElhinney from Foyle Golf Centre propping up the field on five over after a 76.
Following changes announced in 2011, the PGA Play-Offs field was extended to 24 and is also now the only route for PGA members to qualify for the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.