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Hoey keen to raise game at NI Open

 

By Paul Kelly

One cut down, another one to come at this year's Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open, presented by Modest! Golf.

After two days of jockeying for position, the tournament steps up a notch with players bidding to finish inside the top 24 and earn a place in Shootout Sunday.

The two-round cut fell at level par yesterday with the magic mark to reach Shootout Sunday hovering around three under.

Ardglass golfer Cormac Sharvin, who finished the day on two under par alongside Irish players Damien McGrane, Simon Thornton and Neil O'Briain, accepts he might have to take a few chances. He said: "I'm in a pretty good position to get into the last 24. I need one more good round tomorrow.

"I need to be smart, take on flags when they are there but stay away from some tee shots when there is a bit of trouble around."

Englishman Tom Murray and Scotland's Ross Kellett lead the way on eight under par, with Austrian Lukas Nemecz a shot further back.

Murray knows how to win on Irish soil, his sole Challenge Tour victory to date coming two years ago at the Irish Challenge in Co Carlow.

"I don't know what it is about Ireland but whether it's south of the border or here up north, it seems to bring out the best in me," said the 27-year-old. "The course set-up here is probably the best of the year and it feels like a European Tour event, so that helps boost everything."

A total of 73 players made it through to today's third round with just eight shots separating first from last. Among them was tournament ambassador Michael Hoey, who had fully expected to miss the cut after following his opening-round 69 with a 72 to finish on one under par.

"My game is not far away but it's just not quite there. It was the same yesterday. I just left a few shots out there," said the Ulsterman. "The swing is good but I'm just not dialled in enough."

Play gets under way this morning at 8.30am with the leaders going out at 10.30am.

In the event of a tie for 24th, a sudden death play-off will take place before a draw to decide the match-play pairings.

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