Liam Nolan is just three shots off the early lead at the St Andrews Links Trophy as a number of Irish players started well on the Jubilee Course.
Thirteen Irish players opted to make the trip to the Home of Golf this bank holiday weekend rather than compete in the East of Ireland Championship in Baltray and four players finished the opening day under-par.
Nolan is in a share of third place on five-under-par while Australia’s Connor McKinney leads on eight-under after a sublime 64.
The Galway native got off to an electric start making the turn in just 31 strokes. After an opening par, the NUIG student burst into life with four birdies in five holes including a hat trick of gains from the second to the fourth.
A fifth birdie arrived on the par-3 ninth in a flawless opening nine. Nolan reached six-under on two occasions but birdies on the eleventh and sixteenth were cancelled out by dropped shots on twelve and seventeen as he came home in 36 for an opening 67.
Castle’s Robert Moran has continued his fine form and is in a good position to mount a challenge over the weekend from two-under-par and just six off the pace.
The Irish international who came close in the Flogas Irish Amateur Open last month is in a packed share for 15th place after an opening 70.
It could have been better for the Dubliner who found himself four-under after twelve holes thanks to birdies on the first, fifth, eleventh and twelfth. Unfortunately he let two shots slip late on as bogeys on the 14th and sixteenth dropped him back to two-under.
West of Ireland champion Alan Fahy and Irish Amateur Open runner-up Matthew McClean are both well placed on one-under after they opened their campaign with rounds of 71.
The cut is projected to fall at level-par with Sligo’s TJ Ford and Royal Dublin’s Hugh Foley on one-over after rounds of 73, while Marc Boucher of Carton House is a shot further back after an opening 74.
Enniscorthy’s Paul Conroy shot a first round 75 to lie on plus three while a trio of Paul Coughlan (Castleknock), John Cleary (Elm Park) and David Kitt (Athenry) have work to do from four-over.
Roscommon’s Thomas Higgins is on five-over after an opening 77 while Keith Egan who played in the opening group is back on eight-over after an 80.