Ferguson stays ahead, Doherty leads women in Ireland

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BALLYMENA, NORTHERN IRELAND — Ewen Ferguson of Scotland continued his big opening round with a par 70 but that kept him ahead at the ISPS Handa World Invitational on Friday.

Ferguson recorded a course record 61 on Thursday at Galgorm Castle, one of two courses used for the event which features men’s and women’s tournaments taking place simultaneously.

Ferguson, 26, looking for his second European Tour victory, remained 9 under the overall standings after Friday’s round at Massereene Golf Club. Spaniard Borja Virto was one shot after his 67.

“(I) missed a few putts that I kind of made yesterday to continue my round,” Ferguson said. “Good putts, but just kind of lipping, and yesterday they were kind of lipping. You step on the next tee when they lip, you feel amazing. When you step onto the next tee and it comes out you feel a bit flatter.

Italian Filippo Celli (67), who won silver as top amateur at the British Open last month, was two shots off the lead alongside Sweden’s Felix Palson (68).

The tournament is tri-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour and the LPGA Tour. The men and women play from different tees and compete separately, with two equal prize pools of $1.5 million each.

Amanda Doherty of the United States kept her at the top of the women’s tournament after her under-67 record in Massereene. At 11 under overall, Doherty is a shot ahead of compatriot Lauren Coughlin and Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen.

Doherty, 24, has recorded five birdies of his first nine.

“The putts were going today. I was hitting the ball well to get it close enough for them to get in, but they were just falling in, and that was definitely the best part of my game on the front nine,” she said.

Georgia Hall of England holed a hole-in-one on the par-3 third of its 69 at Massereene. She’s three shots off the lead.

“I couldn’t really see it, but I think it flipped a few feet, spun, then rolled well,” she said.

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