Debutants Joshua Hill and Jack Murphy share the lead alongside England’s Conor Byers after day one of the 57th Lytham Trophy at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
The teenage pair carded two-under rounds of 68 to edge to the summit in a thoroughly impressive display.
Galgorm Caslte’s Hill rose to the top first thanks to five birdies and three bogeys. They say all good rounds start with a bogey and that proved the case for the 19-year-old who bounced back with birdies on 3, 6 and 8 to breeze to the turn in 32.
A dropped shot on ten was cancelled out by a birdie on 11 and a birdie, bogey, par finish capped off a great first effort around the notoriously tough track.
Connacht Boys champion Murphy (Douglas) was three-over after six holes courtesy of a double bogey six on the third and a bogey on the sixth.
From there however, he gave a glimpse as to why so many tip him for stardom. He raced to the turn with a hat trick of birdies before a birdie on eleven made it four in five holes.
A string of five pars was cancelled out by a birdie on 17 as he eased home in 34 in one of the great rounds of his burgeoning career.
Just eight players shot in red figures on a difficult day for scoring with a further six players shooting level-par 70s including Portmarnock’s Brandon St John who is also enjoying his debut so far as he shares ninth place.
Athenry’s David Kitt had briefly held a share of the lead on two-under after birdies on 8 and 9 but a bogey on 10 and double on the par-3 12th capped off a mad five hole stretch and he settled for a one-over 71 which is good enough for T15.
Nineteen Irish teed it up on Friday morning with US Mid-Am champion Matthew McClean on two-over-par alongside Robert Moran and Connacht Strokeplay champion Robert Brazill while Royal Dublin’s Richard Knightly is a shot further back after a 73.
Castle’s Moran was fourth while McClean shared sixth last year so they know they are not out of it by any means.
North and South of Ireland champion Hugh Foley is six shots back after a four-over 74 which included a bizarre run of seven bogeys in eight holes and just six pars.
The remaining Irish face a battle to make the cut with Carton House man Marc Boucher in 69th on plus five while Lisburn’s Aaron Marshall and Roganstown’s Sean Keeling are a shot further back in 87th.
Thomas Abom of Edmondstown is seven-over while Darragh Flynn and Patrick Keeling are plus eight with Roscommon’s Simon Walker a shot further back. Dundalk’s Eoin Murphy was sixth last term but struggled to a ten-over 80, as did Liam Abom.
Student Series Order of Merit winner Ryan Griffin languishes on thirteen-over.
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