Defending AIG Irish Men’s Amateur Close champion Quentin Carew was pleased with his opening round in Malone Golf Club as he ground out a level-par 70 in wet and windy conditions.
In a career first for the Castleknock man, he teed off this morning as a defending champion alongside Robert Moran and Liam Nolan in the marquee group as they battled some difficult conditions as Storm Betty threatens to engulf the country.
Carew mixed three birdies and as many bogeys to lie just two shots behind current leaders Moran of Castle Golf Club who carded a two-under 68 and Belvoir Park’s Simon Ward who has played six holes of his opening round with scoring seemingly better in the afternoon so far.
“I’m happy with my start you know, the course was playing long and it was wet and windy for our round anyway,” explained Carew. “The rain has eased a little bit here just as I’m finished. I’m happy with how I played, played solid, didn’t do too much wrong you just have to grind the holes out and get the pars to keep it going.
“The first tee was nice a little nervy but I was happy. It was nice to be standing on the tee knowing you are defending a title but had to get that out of my mind fairly quickly because it’s a brand new tournament and last year doesn’t mean anything now, just go out there and be aggressive and work my way up that leaderboard,” added the 32-year-old.
This week is the first of a two-year trial period for the Irish Close which will be played across 72-holes of strokeplay rather than 36 holes of strokeplay qualifying before branching into matchplay.
The belief is that the new format will favour the full-time amateurs and bring the cream to the top by the end of the championship.
Carew was a 200/1 outsider when he downed North and South of Ireland winner Hugh Foley in Headfort Golf Club last year and while he feels the new format plays into the hands of the full-time players he hopes the poor weather can prove to be a leveller in the absence of matchplay.
“The new format probably does play into the favour of lads who are full time a little bit more. Matchplay is always a great leveller but actually with the weather out there today it has been a good leveller in itself! It’s about making pars and keeping big numbers off the card. Happy enough with how I played today and already looking forward to tomorrow.”
Walker Cup hopeful Moran was the only player to shoot in red figures in the morning. Of the other notable scores, Brabazon Trophy and South American Amateur champion Nolan (70) is also on level-par while Robert Brazill (Naas) is one-under through six holes.