Moran and Coulter best of the Irish after tough opening day of the European Nations Championship

Ronan MacNamara
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Moran and Coulter best of the Irish after tough opening day of the European Nations Championship

Robert Moran (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

On a day of tough scoring, it was Robert Moran who dug deep to lead the Irish charge on day one of the European Nations Championship.

The Castle golfer battled valiantly to shoot a one-over 73 and lie in a share of 4th just four shots off the pace set by Spaniard Jaime Montojo whose 69 was the only round in the 60s on day one.

Only three players shot level-par or better at Real Club de Golf Sotogrande. Moran who enjoyed a fruitful spell in South Africa in pre-season roared out of the traps with a brace of birdies and despite a dropped shot on the par-5 6th, he managed to turn in 35. The Dubliner fell back to level-par on the 10th but soon returned to red figures courtesy of a third birdie of the day on the 12th.

Having immediately given the shot away on 13, Moran fell the wrong side of par for the first time after a bogey on the par-4 16th. He did manage to ease home with two pars for a back nine of 38.

Hugh Foley and Liam Nolan are the next best of the Irish on five-over after a pair of opening 77s. Royal Dublin’s Foley who reached the semi-final of the Spanish Amateur earlier this month carded just two pars in an erratic front nine that included four bogeys, a double and two birdies.

The Clontarf native stumbled out of the blocks with a pair of dropped shots but recovered with a birdie on the third. A run of double-bogey, bogey, birdie added to the drama and a fourth bogey on the 9th saw him turn in 40. Foley carded a much needed birdie on the 11th and despite dropping shots on 13 and 16 it was a much quieter front nine for the West of Ireland champion.

Galway’s Nolan carded two double-bogeys in his opening round including a closing six on the 18th which will undoubtedly leave a sour taste in the mouth. After opening with a bogey, Nolan was going steadily at one-over through six holes before a run of double, birdie, bogey before the turn saw him complete his front nine in 39.

A birdie on 14 was cancelled out by a bogey on 15 before disaster struck on his final hole to leave him alongside Foley in 30th. Irish Amateur Close and Championship winner Peter O’Keeffe is two shots further back on seven-over after an opening effort of 79.

A catastrophic run before the turn proved fatal for the Douglas native who double-bogeyed the 7th, bogeyed the 8th and had a quadruple bogey eight on the 9th to turn in 43 having been level-par after six holes. O’Keeffe came home in 36 after a birdie on 14 and bogey on 15 to share 47th.

Nobody broke par in the women’s section and Beth Coulter grinded out a credible three-over 75 to lie just two shots adrift of early leader Cayetana Fernandez Garcia-Poggio.

A gutsy back nine kept the Kirkistown native in the mix. You can’t win it on the first day but you can certainly lose it and after a front nine of 40, the teenager did well to hang in as Aideen Walsh and Kate Lanigan struggled.

Bogeys on the second and fourth had Coulter in decent shape given the difficulty of the scoring but a double-bogey six on the 9th had her on the ropes heading into the back nine.

A superb finish of eight pars and a sole birdie on the 13th saw her home in 35 and a share of 7th place. Walsh of Lahinch and the Hermitage’s Lanigan are in a share of 25th on twelve-over after a pair of 84s.

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