Sean Keeling once again showed glimpses of his serious potential as he skipped around Sunningdale (New) to share the lead at the Brabazon Trophy as Hugh Foley and Alex Maguire started well.
The Roganstown starlet shares the lead with Switzerland’s Jean Leon Aeschlimann on five-under after a superb blemish free 65 on day one.
Keeling who has four WAGR wins including the Scottish Boys Open title birdied the 2nd, 6th, 11th, 13th and 14th to climb to the summit.
Irish Amateur champion John Gough is three shots adrift on two-under while Royal Dublin’s Foley and Laytown&Bettystown’s Maguire share 11th place on one-under-par.
Foley who knows performances abroad will be the key to his Walker Cup bid in September carded four birdies and three bogeys and he hopes to tidy up some clumsy mistakes over the next three days.
“I played very steady golf, drove the ball pretty well and I tried to stay patient out there. I had a few annoying bogeys that could’ve been avoided so I’ll try and learn from those and improve on them tomorrow if I can.
“Sunningdale is an awesome course and venue, the greens are nice and slick, softer in the mornings and with the heat and wind during the day it plays firm.
“The standard is good in the U.K. and it’s great to see Sean leading the way, especially being part of the same coaching group with Geoff. Looking forward to getting out again tomorrow, the wind is forecast to be up a bit more than today so it may play tougher.”
East of Ireland champion Maguire continued to ride the wave after his fourth place finish at the Irish Amateur Open after he recovered from two opening bogeys to finish under par for the opening round.
“Not the most ideal start this morning, just hit a poor iron shot into the first and didn’t get up and down then made a pretty routine three-putt on the next from 45-feet which wasn’t ideal. But I stayed patient and kept plucking away at the shots and made a few birdies on the front nine.
“Held a nice few par putts on the back nine to keep the round going. Let one slip on 16 with a three-putt but finished nicely with a birdie on 18 which is always nice.
“Irish AM had a nice finish there and that gave me a nice confidence boost going into a busy stretch in Europe over the next few weeks. I’ll be playing regularly with the guys so all I can do is keep the head down, focus on what I can do and see where that leaves me at the end of the week because there are so many great players, you can get caught up in who is around you pretty easily.”
US Mid-Amateur champion Matthew McClean is on level-par while Carton House man Marc Boucher is a shot further back.
Galway’s Liam Nolan is two-over while Robert Moran and Padraig O’Dochartaigh are plus three. Naas’ Robert Brazill was four-over through six and carded twelve successive pars for a 74.
Patrick Keeling and Joshua Hill are five-over.
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