Gary Hurley heads Ireland’s latest wave of hopefuls after a sound start to his Q-School campaign at Stage One in Frilford Heath with IGM sponsored Niall Kearney just one shot adrift.
The West Waterford professional opened his account with successive birdies before adding two more at 5 and 6 in a blistering start. He failed to maintain the surge, dropping three shots from there but home in one-under-par after a solid 71, Hurley is just three shots off top spot in tied 8thafter day one in England.
There’s a quartet of Irish challengers one shot further adrift that includes Limerick’s Tim Rice, Dubliner Paul McBride, Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith and Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney who all opened with even par efforts.
“The course is still struggling a little after the summer droughts,” said Kearney and he added, “It’s a big field too, over 100 players. The weather is good though and it’s forecasted to stay that way for the week. I’m feeling well rested after some time at home and the game is solid so now I just have to go out and get the job done.”
Brian Casey and Kevin Phelan are one shot further back in a share of 40th after posting a pair of plus-one 73s, with amateur John Hickey one behind them after a 74, however the most disappointing news of day one fell on Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan as his chances blew up in smoke after a crippling 81.
Meanwhile at Bogogno in Italy, fresh from his top-20 finish on the Europro Tour, Ireland’s sole representative, Cameron Raymond continued his fine form by firing five birdies to grab a share of 10thspot on three-under-par.