by Ronan MacNamara
TJ Ford by golffile
South of Ireland champion TJ Ford was in flying form as he gave himself a great chance of back-to-back titles after rounds of 68 and 66 left the Sligo native on ten-under-par through 36 holes.
Ford nearly withdrew due to severe foot blisters following the marathon that was the South of Ireland at Lahinch last week but made a full recovery and continued his sensational form to lead by three with 36 to play tomorrow.
The former Maynooth scholar raced to the turn in 30 with five birdies in six holes before two birdies and a bogey on his back nine secured the six-under-par round of 66 on a cool blustery day in the midlands.
Paul Conroy of Enniscorthy and Grange’s Jake Whelan are in a tie for 2nd on seven-under.
Conroy catapulted himself into contention after a round of the day seven-under 65 around Mullingar Golf Club which puts him in the final group tomorrow morning.
An eagle on the par-5 14th was the highlight of the round as he produced a flying finish racing to the clubhouse in five-under 32 to give himself a chance heading into the weekend.
Hugh Foley had a disastrous round of six-over 78 which all but ended his chances of contending over the weekend as he lies on five over.
The top-10 are separated by seven shots with Ford establishing some daylight between him and the chasing pack.
Local player Adam Smith missed the cut after the Mullingar player shot a second round 80 to finish on +13 for the championship thus extending the record of no home player winning the trophy since its inception 59 years ago.