Maynooth University’s Eoin Murphy will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Stirling International at Montrose Golf Links as the first event of the R&A Student Series got underway in Scotland.
Murphy shot a morning five-under 66 to take the clubhouse lead and he wasn’t caught at the end of the day with England’s Will Coxon a shot further back after an opening 67.
It was business as usual for the Maynooth University contingent with Ballybofey & Stranorlar’s Ryan Griffin two shots back on three-under in a six-way tie for third which also includes Annraoi Collins of Laytown & Bettystown.
Defending R&A Student Series champion David Kitt of Athenry is well placed in 9th on two-under alongside Castletroy Scratch Cup champion and fellow Maynoothian, Simon Walker.
Maynooth University debutant Liam Abom of Edmondstown and Aaron Marshall of Lisburn (also Maynooth) completed the under par scoring and are just four shots shy of Murphy.
Dundalk’s Murphy arrived in fine form after a starring role in Leinster’s Interprovincial Championship win in Moyvalley last month and he continued in that vein with a superb blemish free 66.
The Boyd Quaich Memorial champion (at St Andrews) birdied three of his last four holes to surge to the summit.
The Louth native opened with three pars before two birdies in three holes on four and six saw him turn in 34.
A run of five successive pars was arrested with a birdie on the fifteenth before birdies on 17 and 18 saw him take control of proceedings. Accuracy was the order off the tee for the business and management student.
“I kept it in play, hit a lot of irons off tees, kept it tidy and made a few birdies,” said Murphy who was pleased to maintain his summer momentum.
“I’ve had a good summer. I finished sixth in the Lytham Trophy and have just won the Boyd Quaich Memorial at St Andrews, so I’ve been trending nicely and came in here with a bit of confidence. Hopefully I can keep going tomorrow.”
The combined scoring leaves Maynooth’s first team top of the team standings with Stirling firsts in second and Maynooth Seconds in third.
In the women’s section Rossmore’s Kate Dwyer shot a solid opening round of one-under 72 to leave her in sixth place.
The Maynooth University student breezed to the turn with birdies on the sixth and eighth before a dropped shot on eleven and a birdie on 13 kept her at two-under.
Her finish was a rocky one with bogeys on 16 and 18 coming either side of a birdie on 17 as she came home in 38.
Dwyer’s score is a good one and she trails second place by just four shots but her 72 was made to look rather ordinary by the brilliance of Lorna McClymont.
The Irish Women’s Open champion and defending R&A Student champion obliterated the field on the opening day with a thirteen-under 60 to open up a seemingly unassailable eight shot gap at the top.
Amazingly the Scot was bogey-free and carded two eagles in her round.
McClymont turned in just 29 strokes thanks to a run of birdie, par, birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie.
Four successive birdies in the middle of her back nine and an eagle on the par-3 17th saw her home in 31 to complete a magnificent round of golf.
The Milngavie woman had a five-footer on the 18th to card that magical 59 but unfortunately for her it turned it’s nose up at the hole. Still, it’s a course record secured.
“I knew that putt was for a 59, so it wasn’t a great end to the round. I’m a wee bit disappointed because it was really the only putt I missed all day. But I’ll take it on the chin: it’s the best round of golf I’ve ever played,” said the Milngavie Golf Club member, who owns one other course record, a nine-under 64 at Gullane number 1.
“It’s hard to describe but everything just kind of fell into place today. I just stuck to my routine. “There were some negative thoughts going through my head but I managed to get rid of them. I wouldn’t have been able to do that a few years ago, but I’ve worked hard with Dean (Robertson, Stirling University high performance manager) and with my coach (Colin Fisher) on getting rid of the bad thoughts.
“I know there are two sides to me, good Lorna and bad Lorna. I’ve managed to quieten down the bad Lorna. I did that very well today, stayed positive and played one shot at a time.”
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