Richard Kilpatrick (Banbridge GC), Tim Rice (Limerick GC) and Colm Moriarty (Drive Golf Performance) lead the way on six under par after the opening round of the 107th Irish PGA Championship at Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort.
The trio have a one shot lead over Mark Whelan (Castlewarden Golf & CC), with Jerry Scullion (Kilkeel GC) back in fourth on four under par.
“I have been playing well recently and I knew something was going to happen,” said Kilpatrick who went bogey free in his six birdie round.
“I finished the recent Pro-Am at Carne with a 66 and that gave me some added confidence coming down here. I just continued doing the same things. I really felt that today was a good day to make a score. The course is playing firm, it wasn’t very windy and it was generous.”
Moriarty and Rice also signed for bogey-free rounds on a day when 26 players matched or bettered par around the Twin Oaks course.
Moriarty has made a quiet start to the season but he has played his way into contention at the previous two Irish PGA Championships without managing to get his hands on the trophy.
“I haven’t played an awful lot this season and I feel like I am only coming into some sharpness now. I played nicely and game myself a lot of chances today,” said the 38-year-old.
Rice, who missed last year’s championship, is still getting to grips with the lay-out after carding a two over par 74 in Wednesday’s pre-tournament pro-am.
He said, “I’m happy enough with that. It was tricky at times because of the cross wind but it was pleasing to start with that score today.”
Defending champion, Damien McGrane, opened his campaign with a two under par round of 70 and was joined on that mark by David Higgins (Waterville GC), Simon Thornton (Simon Thornton Golf), Shane Jenkinson (St Margaret’s Golf & Country C), Adam Dunmore (Bundoran GC) and Michael McGeady (Seamus Duffy Golf Academy).
“It’s a steady start and I’m exactly where I want to be,” said Damien. “I played steadily from start to finish, holed a few putts and missed a few but I played the par threes poorly today.”
The second round of the 107th Irish PGA Championship sponsored by Moyvalley Hotel & Twin Oaks Golf Resort will get underway at 8am tomorrow with the final four-ball starting at 2.30pm. At the end of play a cut will be made with the top 50 and ties progressing to the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday. Spectators are welcome and entry is free.
T1 Richard Kilpatrick (Banbridge GC); Tim Rice (Limerick GC); Colm Moriarty (Drive Golf Performance Limited) 66 (-6)
4 Mark Whelan (Castlewarden Golf & Country Cl) 67 (-5)
5 Jerry Scullion (Kilkeel GC) 68 (-4)
T6 David Higgins (Waterville Golf Links), Shane Jenkinson (St Margaret’s Golf & CC); Adam Dunmore (Bundoran GC); Damien McGrane; Simon Thornton (Simon Thornton Golf); Michael McGeady (Seamus Duffy Golf Academy) 70 (-2)