Martin takes control in 54-hole Irish PGA

Peter Martin leads the 54-hole PGA Irish Championship at Mount JulietBelfast talent Peter Martin cracked six birdies in opening 67 to lead the weather-reduced PGA Irish Championship at Mount Juliet.

{Scores below or click here for detailed cards}

The Colin Park Golf Academy professional outscored playing partners David Higgins (70) and Philip Walton (72) to lead by two shots on five under par from St Margaret’s John Kelly, European Tour hopeful Barrie Trainor and Clontarf’s Eamonn Brady.

In an event reduced to 54 holes following the cancellation of Thursday’s first round following torrential rain, Martin was in superb form at the stunning Kilkenny layout where the top 50 and ties will now qualify for Sunday’s third and final round.

Starting in the back nine, Glenavy resident Martin birdied the 10th, 12th and short 14th to get to three-under par and recovered from a bogey at the 17th with front nine birdies at the first, fifth and sixth.

Kelly, the 2008 Order of Merit winner, was the best of the morning starters as he carded a three-under 69 to set the clubhouse target in the 102nd staging of the €30,000 championship.

The 40-year-old, who started on the back nine with a two tee start and preferred lies in operation, birdied the par-five tenth and the par-three 14th, but surrendered one of those shots at the par three third before recovering those shots with birdies at the par-five fifth and eight.

Insisting he had a lot of room for improvement, Kelly said: “I didn’t play great. It’s good to get a bad round out of the way.”

Former European Tour professional Gary Murphy, who is completing his PGA training at Laytown and Bettystown, had six birdies in a two under par 70 that was good enough for a share of fifth place with Order of Merit leader Higgins, Wicklow’s Enda McLoughlin, Massereene’s Noel Murray and Dunfanaghy’s Seamus McMonagle.

Waterville man Higgins has a huge lead in the PING Race to Mount Juliet for the Order of Merit title, leaving his nearest rivals David Ryan and Trainor to finish in the top-two to have any chance of overhailing him in an event that offers 10,000 points to the winner as well as a cheque for €3,500.

PGA Irish Championship, Mount Juliet Golf Club (Par 72)

First round

67 Peter Martin (Colin Park Golf Academy)

69 John Kelly (St Margaret’s Golf & CC), Barrie Trainor, Eamonn Brady (Clontarf)

70 Wayne O’Callaghan (Wayneocallaghangolf.com), Glen Robinson (St Helen’s Bay Golf Resort), Enda McLoughlin (Wicklow Golf Club), Gary Murphy (Laytown & Bettystown), Noel Murray (Massereene Golf Club), David Higgins (Waterville Golf Links), Seamus McMonagle (Dunfanaghy Golf Club)

71 Gary Madden (Bearna Golf & CC), Mark Staunton (Ballinasloe Golf Club), Kevin McGivern (Mannan Castle), Mark O’Mahony (Titleist National Fitting Centre), John Dwyer (Ashbourne GC), Cian McNamara (Limerick Golf Club),

72 Peter O’Keeffe (Muskerry), Neil O’Briain, Brendan McGovern (Headfort), David Jones (Bushfoot), James Roche (Gorey DR), John Murray (Malahide), Damian Mooney (Ballyliffin), Philip Walton

73 Darren Walsh (Wexford), Michael Allan (Pure Golf Leopardstown), Mark O’Sullivan (Ashbourne), Gareth McCausland (Ballyliffin), Michael Collins (Mallow GR), Jerry Scullion (Kilkeel), Peter Jones (Coollattin), David Reilly (Westmanstown), Melvyn Flanagan (Mount Temple), David Mortimer (Galway), Stephen Galvin (Curragh), Patrick Devine (Royal Dublin)

74 Mark Cribben (Carr Golf Services), Niall Kearney (Royal Dublin), Kenny Fahey (GUI National Academy), Darren McWilliams (Blackwood G Cent), David Foley (Dromoland Castle), Greg Massey (Hermitage), Enda Maguire (Dundalk), Peter McClelland (Peter McClelland Golf), Leslie Walker (Dundalk)

75 Michael McDermott (Pure Golf Leopardstown), David Ryan (Cahir Park), Ian Kerr (Bunclody Golf & Fishing Club), John Dolan (Ballybofey & Stranorlar), James Quinlivan (Mullingar), Ted Higgins (Mount Wolseley Golf & CC, Tony O’Regan (Carton House), John Sugrue (Tralee)

76 John McDermott (Grange), Brian O’Donovan (Douglas), Eoin O’Connor (Kilkenny), Daniel Sugrue (Killarney Golf & Fishing Club), Tim Rice, Seamus Clinton (Letterkenny), Gary Wardlow (American Golf), Daniel Beattie, , Eddie Doyle (Natural Golf School), Bernard Quigley (Carton House),

77 John Dignam (Slade Valley), Ryan Madigan (Killiney), Donal Gleeson (Old Conna), Paul Masterson (Coollattin), Ian St. John (Carrick-on-Suir), David Hughes (Massereene ), Michael O’Shea (Callan), William Noble (County Cavan), Shane Deegan (Spawell Driving Range), Peter O’Hagan (PeterOHagan.com    ),

78 Sean Cotter (Mount Juliet), Gregory Leech (Lisheen Springs), Emmet Staunton (Castleknock), Patrick Geraghty (Druids Glen),

79 Ian Colleran (Athlone Golf Academy), Gerry Burke (Curragh), Derry Kiely (Faithlegg), Richard Creamer (Tuam), Kevin Foy (Stepaside Golf Centre), Eoin Tobin (Tipperary), Graeme Dunlea (Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort), Patrick Sheehy (Newcastle West)

80 Marc Kynes (Dargle View), Jamie Walsh (Charleville), David Ruddy (Cahir Park),

81 Robert Giles (Greenore), David Mooney (Golf Graffix)

82 Jimmy Bolger (Kilkenny), Conor McCormick (Newcastle West),

83 Hugh Feeney (Athlone),

84 Graham Callaghan (Hollywood Lakes)

86 Colin Farr (Whitehead),

88 Joe Dillon (Headfort), Gavin Kavanagh (Delgany),

93 Michael Hutchinson (Lisburn),

WD Neil Manchip (GUI National Academy)

DQ Edward Doyle (Westmanstown), Kevin Morris (Fota Island)

RTD Eanna Jones Nenagh Golf Club