Irish Close champion Moran hits blistering 65 to lead North of Ireland

Rob Moran took the lead after the first round at Royal Portrush. Photo: Thos Caffrey / Golffile.

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AIG Irish Close champion Rob Moran said he is seeing better results from his game as he took the lead after the opening round of the North of Ireland.

The Castle golfer shot a brilliant 65 on Wednesday to take a one-shot overnight advantage ahead of the duo of James Fox (Portmarnock) and Graham Donohoe (Enniscorthy) at Royal Portrush.

It was a difficult day for golf on the Valley Links with strong gusts throughout but 18 players still managed to shoot under par in the final event of the Bridgestone Order of Merit series.

And the 24-year-old, who is tenth in the Order of Merit standings, says he is happy to see his performances trending in the right direction on the back of helping Castle to the AIG Men’s Senior Cup at Dun Laoghaire earlier this month.

“I’m pretty happy with where the golf is at. Just have to keep on looking at it because you are always not on top of something. It’s nice to be working at things and feeling good about it and seeing better results,” said Moran.

“It was fairly rotten out there today, it was just about keeping it straight because the rough was bad in a few spots especially when it was raining. So it was about keeping it as straight as possible.

“It’s so far away now, have to play a completely different golf course the next two days. But yeah these are major championship courses, it would be nice to win.”

Moran had a bogey-free round with four birdies on the front nine and two more on the back nine, en route to his 65.

Fox was similarly impressive in second place, a bogey on the fourth cost him while Donohoe had his only bogey on the 13th hole.

Local Royal Portrush golfer Andrew Morris was the clubhouse leader for much of the early afternoon, after he carded a 69 for -2. And he was thrilled to be in contention following the first round although he knows there is still a long way to go.

“It came as a bit of a surprise,” said Morris.

“Looking out at it this morning and checking the weather app, 49 miles an hour for us hitting off wasn’t exactly what you would be looking for. But I got off to a good start, I birdied the sixth, the seventh, the eighth and held it together then.

“You can’t win it today but you can lose it, so I am delighted. To get that draw and come in shooting under par, I am over the moon.”


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