Former Irish Close champion Tiarnan McLarnon is among seven players tied for the lead after the first round of the East of Ireland Amateur at Baltray sponsored by City North Hotel.
Following a wet morning, conditions were just about as good as it gets at the County Louth venue and a string of good scoring soon accompanied the warm weather with the Massereene man pointing the way.
Malone’s Matthew McClean, Oughterard’s Devin Morley, Cork’s John Hickey and Black Bush’s Sean Doyle are the other Irish in the leading pack while South Africa is well represented too with Christo Lamprecht and Therion Nel seemingly right at home on the seaside links having joined the group taking route 66 on day one of the championship.
There are plenty of others in contention too with Maynooth’s Ronan Mullarney part of the group just one shot back as he continues to loom large in just about every event he tees up in this year. Also at five under are Cork’s Gary O’Flaherty, Waterford’s Eanna Griffin and Cairndhu’s Marc McKinstry after fine starts.
Indeed it didn’t have the feel of a traditional Irish coastal championship with balmy conditions and light breezes taking the role of the usual cold winds and sideways rain. And it showed in the scoring. Forty-six players broke par on the opening day but that’s also testament to the quality of the field taking part this year.
Eleven Irish senior panellists are in action with the likes of Hermitage’s Rowan Lester and Kinsale’s John Murphy in the fray after four-under-par 68s to open their respective bids.
Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty and Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell are just one shot further back after solid opening efforts while Mallow’s James Sugrue, Kilkenny’s Mark Power, Douglas’ Peter O’Keefe and ‘King of the West’ Robert Brazill snuck the right side of par after opening 71s.
Defending champion Reece Black may have been the surprise of day one, however, after he returned a disappointing three-over-par 75, the 18-year-old needing a good one today to progress to the final stages.
The top 42 and ties after today’s second round advance to the final 36 holes, to be played tomorrow, June 4th.