Brian McCormack’s bid for a third successive win on the Irish PGA Region remains on track after he ended day one of the inaugural Donegal Pro-Am sponsored by Total Splicing Solutions Ltd in a share of the lead on Friday.
McCormack carded a two-under 71 to hit the front alongside Lough Erne’s Damian Mooney with Co. Louth professional Ciaran Molloy and Tim Rice a shot further back with the best of the afternoon scores after a blustery opening day in Murvagh.
Mooney was the first to move into red figures and he was shortly joined by McCormack at the end of the morning wave.
“I played a couple of holes last night and I’ve never been here before. I really loved it and the greens are true and they’re nice speed and I felt like you could get a good score, like a deep score around here given the five par fives,” said McCormack who is hunting a hat trick after wins in Mount Juliet and Newlands.
“So get out on the course then and all of a sudden it’s 40 mile an hour winds, and holes that were drivers sandwedge last night are like driver and iron today and you’re just scrambling for pars and then really like any little birdie chance that you do get, you feel like you got to take it, which thankfully I was able to do today.
“Yeah, thankfully, my ball striking was was decent.”
McCormack carded three birdies and just the one bogey and he feels damage limitation was important on a very windy day on the links.
“The wind is still pretty prevalent here, but yeah, I had one bogey on the card Shortsided myself on a hole that my goal today was to not short side myself because I felt that if I didn’t short side myself, I could probably get put on most of the shots even off the green.
“And if your pace was right, you’re not going to struggle too much for pars. The only time I short sided myself, I made a bogey. So I doubled down after that and I said the whole way and stick to the strategy and, and thankfully I birdied the last hole to get to two.”
If he can get over the line on Saturday it would be three wins on the spin and a first on links turf.
“Going for the hat trick this week, something I’ve never done before. It was beautiful in Mount Juliet last week. It was nice five under there and then Newlands in likely more difficult conditions. It was nice in Newlands to share the win down there with three other lads.
“But I haven’t actually won a tournament on the Irish region on a links course. So that was one of my goals for this year.”
Mooney might have been sleeping on a three-shot lead had he not bogeyed his last three holes which took the gloss off a fabulous opening fifteen holes.
Mooney carded seven birdies including three in a row on 11, 12 and 13 and a pair of bogeys in that spell.
“Yeah I’m happy enough,” said Mooney. “Anytime you shoot two under of course is always good.
“I didn’t know I had seven birdies so that was nice, just got on a run where you hole a few putts which was good. The wind got up for us in the last couple of hours so the key was to keep the ball in play and hole the putts.
“It’s well bunkered and well laid out, it’s a few years since I was here. The changes are fabulous and it’s a golf course that I did think coming here, I thought it was a wee bit more plain, but it’s very interesting. It keeps you on your toes.
“It’s very nice and there’s a great buzz. But the event this week was a brilliant, the members are great. I mean, they’re here, they’re volunteering, they’re active, they’re helping in the car park and they’re helping with everything that needs done. So, it’s very good.”
Ballina’s Eddie Tracey and North West’s Brian McElhinney are just two shots back after level par rounds of 73.