Athenry’s Sean O’Connell took full advantage of his late call-up into the field as he posted a one-under 71 in his opening round of the Flogas Irish Men’s Amateur Open Championship at The Island.
O’Connell, who is just two shots off the clubhouse lead, was nineteenth on the reserve list at one stage and only got the call on Monday to pack his clubs and make the journey down.
The NUIG student carded fifteen pars, two birdies and just the one bogey coming on the difficult 18th and he feels the key was plotting his way around the course, and he had a hot putter to help him too.
“I think I hit the driver three times today,” he said. “I hit the two-iron most of the way around and plotted my way around. If you spray it off the tee you can lose a ball whereas where I’m from in Athenry you’re on another fairway so today was about plotting my way around and picking good lines and giving myself a line to the green.
“I holed nearly everything I looked at; chipping was good I wasn’t great off the tee but it is fair enough out here that you can get away with some shots. I wasn’t too wild but when you are holing putts it gives you the confidence to make a few birdies and shoot a good score.
“Getting up and down is what saved me today. My two birdies were from good putts, I holed a long one from off the front of the tenth and I got up and down on the second par-5 on the back nine. Birdies are there to be had on the par fives but you have to make pars on the long par fours into the breeze,” he added.
O’Connell only played the course for the first time yesterday in Flogas’s traditional pre-tournament AM/AM and he feels it helped make his preparations more enjoyable and he carried those positive vibes into his round on Thursday morning.
The Galway native teed off at 8am alongside former Walker Cup player Caolan Rafferty and John Cleary and he was delighted to take advantage of the calmer conditions as the wind began to blow a gale on his final few holes.
“It was nice to get a fun round in yesterday, sometimes during practice rounds you can be a bit too serious but playing the AM/AM it helped. I saw a lot of places I shouldn’t have been which helped a lot, I don’t like playing courses blind because I can’t commit to shots but it’s nice to know places where there’s a bit of clearance,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s luck of the draw, the lads in the afternoon are going to have it tough. No doubt they’re all great players and a few under-pars will come in but it was nice to get out early and post a number before everyone else. I’m delighted to be in and relax a bit now.”
- Full scoring HERE