Purcell fights back in Australian Amateur
Conor Purcell (Portmarnock) driving at the 17th tee during the second day of the AIG 2018 Irish Amateur Close Championship at The European Club. Picture by  Pat Cashman

Conor Purcell (Portmarnock) driving at the 17th tee during the second day of the AIG 2018 Irish Amateur Close Championship at The European Club. Picture by Pat Cashman

Portmarnock's Conor Purcell fought back from a poor start in the Australian Amateur Championship and posted a one-under-par 70 to share 41st after the first qualifying round at Spring Valley Golf Club.

The Dubliner now plays Woodlands Golf Club hoping to make the top 64 who qualify for the matchplay stages, but he has work to do to catch leader David Micheluzzi.

Scores

World No 7 Micheluzzi, who is the highest ranked player in the field, carded an amateur course record, eight-under-par 63 at Spring Valley to lead by two strokes in searing Melbourne heat.

The Victorian was runner-up in this event at Perth’s Lake Karrinyup last year, and he's keen to go one better.

“We train here a lot, so I know the course pretty well," said Micheluzzi, who was tied 62nd individually as Australia finished Eisenhower Trophy team that finished joint 12th at Carton House last summer.

"I got a few putts to drop, and it totalled up to 63. I’m pretty happy with that. I’ve got a bit of fire in the belly from last year, I just want to get one more place, and then I’ll be very happy.”

Purcell is one stroke outside the top 40 but tied with another 18 players for 41st after a round that began with three consecutive bogeys.

However, he birdied the sixth, seventh, eighth, 11th and 17th to get to two-under before closing with a bogey five at the 18th

Micheluzzi leads by two shots from Victorian Amateur champion Andre Lautee and Victorian-based South Australian Travis Miller, who both shot 65s at Spring Valley.

They were joined by Queenslander Lochie Coleborn, who shot a 67 at Woodlands.

In the women’s championship, Queenland’s Lion Higo shot a six-under 67 at Woodlands to share with the lead with Japan’s Sae Ogura, who shot a six-under 68 at Spring Valley.

Women’s scores