Lightning start gives Moriarty the edge

Colm Moriarty. Picture: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Colm Moriarty made the most of a lightning quick start to take a first round lead in the PGA Play-Offs over a weather-beaten PGA Sultan Course.

The championship, which contains a £15,000 prize fund, was subject to a delay lasting more than two hours as thunder and heavy rain pummelled the Mediterranean coast.

But by then Moriarty had already made serious inroads on the scoring, shooting five birdies over the front nine on the way to an end-of-day four-under-par score of 67.

His cool and collected first round could prove pivotal as he bids to return to Wentworth for the BMW PGA Championship.

The top 10 at Antalya Golf Club will secure places to play in the prestigious European Tour event, as well as several other European Tour and Challenge Tour starts.

Not that he will have things easy for the rest of the week.

Ominously perched one shot behind him is a foursome containing fellow Irishman David Higgins, two-time Play-Offs winner Greig Hutcheon, PGA Cup player Gareth Wright and Beedles Lake pro Matt Cort.

“My front nine was vital, I hit a few good shots and that gave me the chance to make some putts,” he explained.

“The thing about this course is that if you keep the ball in play and hit your irons well then you’re always going to stand a chance.

“When the weather turned it made things a lot more difficult but I’m happy enough, four-under is a good score.”

Moriarty relished his return to Antalya Golf Club having finished fourth in this event last year.

“It’s a great venue and a great place to come and play golf,” he said. “I’ve been raving about Turkey for years.

“Everyone’s come here hoping to win the tournament and of course there’s some sub-plots going on as well but you’ve just got to go out there and play as well as you can.”

Eamonn Brady (Clontarf), who topped the PGA in Ireland Order of Merit, stayed in touch wth a one over par 72 that left him tied for ninth.

Leicester man Cort, meanwhile, was in good spirits during a good end to the season.

He hit three birdies over the back nine as much of the field struggled with the soggy conditions.

“I’ve had a good few weeks, having won in Bulgaria with the PGAs of Europe and then qualified to come here,” he said.

“It’s an event that’s always on your radar, and of course there is also the fact that there are those spots at Wentworth to be won.

“I’d love to go back there having played it in May. I missed the cut this year, so I’d like to get the opportunity to go back and put it right.”

PGA Play-Offs, PGA Sultan Course, Antalya Golf Club

Detailed scores

67  Colm Moriarty  Drive Golf Performance

68 Greig Hutcheon  (Paul Lawrie Golf Centre), David Higgins (Waterville), Gareth Wright (West Linton), Matt Cort (Beedles Lake).

72 Eamonn Brady (Clontarf)