McGrane holes out for share of lead


GOLF:A BRILLIANT bunker shot by Damien McGrane at the final hole gave the Irishman a share of the lead on five-under-par 66 with Sweden’s Joakim Haeggman in the Madeira Islands Open at Porto Santo yesterday.

McGrane went out in a five-under 31 after starting at the 10th, but last year’s China Open winner was unable to sustain that kind of form on the testing course and had dropped back to four under par after 17 holes. And he looked unlikely to improve on that when his tee-shot found the sand at the short ninth, his last.

But his chip came out perfectly and snaked it’s way left to right into the centre of the cup to secure a share of the lead.

“I thought I was right up on the bank and I was delighted to see that it had gone in the bunker, to be honest,” he said.

“It was still an extremely difficult bunker shot but one of those rare things happened where not only did I put the ball on the green but I managed to get it in the hole, which was great because it was a very difficult shot. Even if it had finished six feet from the hole I would have been happy.

“I played really well all day – I made only two bogeys and they were really down to the wind as opposed to bad shots. I played well, started off great with three birdies in a row with good shots all the way.”

McGrane birdied his first three holes and then added two more at the 14th and 18th for an outward half of 31, and then came home in 35 with birdies at the third and ninth being cancelled out by bogeys at the second and fifth.

He shares the lead with Haeggman, who confessed: “I felt like an old man on the Challenge Tour last year, and if I’d failed at the qualifying school in November it was probably the end of the story.”

Instead, he finished joint fifth, and a seventh-place finish at the Joburg Open in January further boosted his confidence. “This is still what I want to do,” added Haeggman, who since his last Tour victory at the 2004 Qatar Masters has slumped to 445th in the world.

Michael Hoey is three shots back after a 69, the same mark as Michael McGeady, who holed his second shot at the par-four 14th.

But there there was no joy for Jonathan Caldwell, who included three double bogeys in his 75, while Simon Thornton took seven at the third and eight at the 18th for 83.

Today’s Second Round
(local time and Irish time are the same)

Simon Thornton 7.40am
Michael Hoey 8.20am
Damien McGrane 9.0am
Jonathan Caldwell 12.20pm
Michael McGeady 2.10pm