Defending champion, Niall Kearney defied blustery wet conditions to fire a course record seven under par 65 on the opening day of the HBE Risk Management PGA Ulster Championship at The Hilton Templepatrick on Thursday.
Kearney, who warmed up for the event by winning the Connemara Pro-Am on Sunday, has a two shot lead over Killarney’s Daniel Sugrue heading into today’s final round.
“We did have rain at times and it was very dull and overcast but the greens are very good here. The course is generally in good condition,” said Kearney.
“It’s certainly a good start. The same again tomorrow would do nicely.”
Last year, the Royal Dublin attaché closed out the field with a second round 64 to win the title but with placing on fairways in operation, his round was not ‘official’.
With the fairways holding up yesterday his 65, which included nine threes (two of them being eagles) will stand as the new professional record.
Nearest chaser overnight, on 69, is Killarney’s Daniel Sugrue who put in a fighting finish, going eagle-birdie-birdie from the long 16th hole. Sugrue had five birdies, an eagle and four bogeys on his card.
HBE Risk Management PGA Ulster Championship at The Hilton Templepatrick
First Round Leaders:
65 (-7) – N Kearney (Royal Dublin).
69 – D Sugrue (Killarney).
70 – C Moriarty (Glasson Hotel & GC, M McDermott (Pure Golf Leopardstown), J Quinlivan (Mullingar), D Ryan (Cahir Pk)
71 – D Beattie (Deer Park Hotel), P McLaughlin (Royal Dublin), M McGeady (Unattached), D Gleeson (Old Conna).
72 – N O’Briain (Unattached), C Molloy (Unattached), E Logue (Hilton), R Sheehy (Newcastle West), F O’Doherty (Letterkenny) S McMonagle (Dunfanaghy), B McGovern (Headfort), D Mooney (Ballyliffin), J Kelly (St Margaret’s), G Robinson (St Helen’s Bay)