The R&A - Working for Golf

Brown and Griffin take Tróia lead

Ryan Griffin takes a one-shot advantage into the final day of the R&A Student Tour Series – Portugal on a testing day for scoring.

The Maynooth University student sits atop the leaderboard after returning a second round 77, five-over-par, in windy conditions at Tróia Golf Resort to go with his opening 72. He leads a quartet of players that includes teammate Eoin Murphy, Ronan McCrory of Ulster University and Edge College players Max Weaver and Noah Brunner.

On a day when overnight leader Ben Fuller (St Andrews), struggled to an 11-over 83 after being the only player to record an under par score on day one, Griffin kept his composure. 

Links experience pays off

The plus three handicapper is a member of Murvagh Golf Club in Donegal, one of Ireland’s best links. So the two-club wind that blew up at Tróia didn’t faze him.

“This is right up there with the toughest courses I’ve played, but usually it’s the weather that makes them tough,” said Griffin, who is studying marketing and psychology. “I’m used to playing in a breeze so my links experience has paid off these two days. 

“But this is a tough course because you’ve got to plot your way around it. You can hit a very good shot and get absolutely penalised if the ball ends up in sand in the trees off the fairway.”

The 21-year-old managed to stay upbeat despite the tough conditions. “The key the last two days has just been to keep an optimistic mindset,” he added. “Nobody is going to run away with the tournament, and if you’re making a par then you’re gaining strokes on the field because everyone is making bogeys and double bogeys. So if you keep telling yourself that and don’t get too bogged down when you get a bad break then you’ll do all right.”

Good form coming into Portugal

Griffin enjoyed a good ending to last year with consecutive second-place finishes in the R&A Student Tour Series – Ireland at Carton House and the Irish Intervarsity Championship.

“That kind of gave me good wee spur and gave me confidence coming here,” he continued. “They were good learning curves that should stand me in good stead going forward – and hopefully tomorrow.”

Griffin knocked his ball onto the par-5, 18th hole in two and had a 30 foot putt for eagle. However, he was happy to walk away with a par after his first putt rolled 15 foot past the hole.

Fast greens

He said: “These greens are lightning fast, probably the quickest I’ve ever putted on. That putt at the last was almost impossible to stop near the hole, so you can’t charge putts here. You almost have to putt defensively.”

Two of Griffin’s chasers are in contention because of home course advantage. Weaver and Brunner attend Edge Golf College, which is based at Tróia . 

“Today was a two-club wind but we’ve played here when it’s been a four-club wind,” said Weaver, a member of Bury St Edmunds Golf Club who got into the field at the last minute as a reserve. “It was tough today but it’s a hard course even when there isn’t a wind. You’ve just to get after it and play the best you can.”

Brown tops women’s section

Penelope Brown of Stirling University holds the lead in the women’s tournament after matching Griffin’s five-over 77. She sits on 12-over-par, one shot ahead of first-round leader and teammate Lorna McClymont, Trinity College Dublin player Kate Lanigan and Lucy Jamieson of the University of St Andrews.

“This course is as tough as it gets, especially the greens,” said Brown, who finished second here two years ago to Stirling teammate Louise Duncan. “If you get on the wrong side of the green it can be hard just to keep the ball on the green.

“It’s just a course where you have to accept bogeys and double bogeys and just stay patient. There’s no point getting upset.”

A challenge for the best

Those finding Tróia a testing examination should take heart: the best professional golfers in Europe have struggled here too.

The course’s reputation as a tough test was established in 1983 when the European Tour staged the Portuguese Open at Tróia Golf Resort. 

Winner Sam Torrance was the only player to break par for 72 holes. His two-under-par total of 286 gave him a three-shot victory. There were only 13 sub-par scores the entire week, and one score under 70. No wonder the course is winning this week’s battle against Europe’s best university players.

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