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King of the links

King of the links

Gary King will take a one-shot lead into day three of the Irish Challenge after posting a two under par round of 69 in difficult conditions at Portmarnock Links.

Gary King

The Englishman ended the day on six under par, moving one shot clear of round one leader Alfredo Garcia-Heredia and two shots clear of Northern Irishman Dermot McElroy.

The 30-year-old was happy to finish his round in style and is looking to keep the standard high over the weekend as he chases a second Challenge Tour victory.

“I am very pleased,” said King. “It was nice to finish the round off with a birdie on 18 having birdied 16 as well, so lunch is going to taste that bit sweeter. I’m sitting in a good spot so hopefully I can continue the good form into tomorrow.”

Having battled hard in heavy rain and strong winds to card four birdies and overturn a three-shot deficit at the top, King is relishing in the tough conditions that links golf is throwing his way despite admitting to not being a fan of the cold weather.

“It is a funny one because I hate the cold. As you can see, I am wearing a big wooly hat now so I will welcome a bit warmer weather tomorrow but hopefully the wind stays up because I am enjoying that test.”

The 2016 Montecchia Open by Lyoness winner used his links experience and emphasised the importance of approach play into the greens. He will be hoping to take his momentum into the weekend and claim a second Challenge Tour title, whilst also gaining vital points to rise up the Road to Mallorca Rankings.

“I’ve hit a lot of good approach shots and that has been the key to not making bogeys for me over the two days.

“If you are hitting your irons well then you can keep bogeys off the card but there are so many runoffs around the greens that if you short side yourself, you are almost certainly going to make a bogey. It is the approach play that has to be strong in order to keep bogeys off the card.”

There is plenty of experience behind the leaders with two-time Challenge Tour winner Borja Virto in fourth place on three under par, while two-time Challenge Tour champion Daan Huizing, young Spaniard Eduard Rousaud, Englishman Andrew Wilson, Iceland’s Gudmundur Kristjansson and Germany’s Yannik Paul, all sit tied fifth on two under par.

The third round of the Irish Challenge will begin at 8am local time on Saturday May 29, with King teeing it up alongside Garcia-Heredia at 13:10.

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