An opening two-under 69 sees Conor O’Rourke spearhead the eight-strong Irish contingent as the Clutch Pro Tour visits The Manor House Golf Club in the picturesque village of Castle Combe in the Cotswolds.
At 20th on the Clutch Pro Order of Merit, O’Rourke is the best-placed Irish man in the circuit’s rankings, and a steady first round saw the K Club professional skirt around with three birdies and just the one bogey on his card, and he sits tied 22nd at -2 and leads Owen Crooks and Daniel Mulligan by one stroke.
Crooks and Mulligan made four birdies each in their opening rounds, but the former would make a bogey and a double while the latter’s three bogeys saw them to a tie for 33rd at the end of day one.
Rowan Lester and John-ross Galbraith are one shot further adrift after matching level-par 71s, while Liam Grehan (+1), John Hickey (+2) and Eoin O’Brien +4 all have work to do if they’re to make the 36-hole cut which will see just the top-50 and ties advance to Thursday’s final round.
England’s Samuel Byford is the man to catch after day one, firing eight birdies in his seven-under round of 64 which saw him take a one-stroke advantage over a trio of fellow countrymen in Jack Cope, Eric McIntosh and Darren Howie.