Defending champion Niall Kearney (Royal Dublin) and Eamonn Brady (Clontarf GC) are locked together at the top of leaderboard after the opening day of the LowFuelCard.ie Irish PGA Championship at Dundalk.
In perfect scoring conditions, Kearney and Brady carded rounds of seven under par 65 to lead James Quinlivan (Mullingar GC) by one and Colm Moriarty (Drive Golf Performance) by two.
Brady won the pro-am on Wednesday with a bogey free round of 67 and he continued in that vein on Thursday, collecting seven birdies and finishing the day without a dropped shot.
“I have played well this year but have struggled a bit with my confidence recently,” said the 41-year-old who failed to get through the first round of European Tour Q-School last week.
“I feel like I have found it again lately, so hopefully I'll keep it going. I played well in the pro-am and itwas the same today, it was just a matter of how many putts I would hole.”
Kearney was playing his first strokeplay event for a number of weeks but eased back into the groove with the minimum of fuss.
The Royal Dublin man is still on something of a high following his exploits at the PGA Cup when he holed the winning putt for GB&I to complete an historic first victory on US soil.
“It felt quite good today, I thought I would be a bit more rusty,” said the 27-year-old. “It has been quite a while since my last strokeplay event but I have been practicing hard and I'm happy with my game at the moment.
“A bit of matchplay can be a good thing, because it can free things up. I think I have carried some of that with me.”
Kearney grabbed eight birdies in total, his only dropped shot coming at the par four 16th when he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker.
He added; “I hit a lot of greens and gave myself a lot of chances. I just want to go out and enjoy it over the next couple of days, relax and see what happens.”
Quinlivan was one of the early starters and the long-time leader following his six under par 66.
“It's not a long course but you have to keep it in play,” said James who has recently been appointed Head professional at Mullingar GC.
“I was speaking to my mum the other day; she's not into golf but she said, 'why don't you go out and try and win this one'. It is kind of logged in my mind.
“It is a good start but I was there or there abouts last year as well for three rounds and then fell away over the final round but I feel a bit better about the game. I found something on the range yesterday and feel like I have got something going.”
Round two continues today at 8am with the cut made at the end of play Top 50 and ties will make it through to the weekend.
LowFuelCard.ie Irish PGA Championship, Dundalk GC (Par 72)
65 Eamonn Brady Clontarf GC, Niall Kearney Royal Dublin GC
66 James Quinlivan Mullingar GC
67 Colm Moriarty Drive Golf Performance Limited
70 Mark O’Sullivan Piltown Driving Range, Mark Staunton Delgany GC, Richard Kilpatrick Banbridge GC, Simon Thornton Team Ireland
71 Kevin McGivern Mannan Castle Golf Clu, Richard Creamer Arklow GC, John Dwyer Ashbourne GC, Graeme Dunlea Monkstown GC
72 Padraig Dooley Drive Golf Performance Limited, Brendan McGovern Headfort GC, Glen Robinson, Hazel Kavanagh Carr Golf Services, Peter Jones Coollattin GC
73 Seamus McMonagle Dunfanaghy GC, Daniel Beattie Deer Park Hotel Golf & Spa, Gerard Hall Edenderry Golf Academy, David Ryan Cahir Park GC, Michael McDermott Pure Golf Leopardstown, Noel Fox GUI National Academy, Jimmy Bolger Kilkenny GC, Damian Mooney Ballyliffin, Shane Franklin LD Golf Limited, John Dignam Slade Valley GC, Robert Giles Greenore GC, Barrie Trainor Cairndhu Golf Clu
74 Shane McCabe Killeen GC, Mark Whelan Castlewarden Golf & Country Club, Kevin Foy Stepaside Golf Centre, Joe Dillon Headfort GC, Alan Gleeson Castlemartyr Links GC, David Mortimer Galway GC, Donal Gleeson Old Conna GC, Neil O’Briain Old Conna GC, Noel Murray Massereene GC, Daniel Sugrue Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, Dermot O’Neill, Cian McNamara Monkstown GC, Cormac Hennessy
75 Ciaran Molloy Blackwood Golf Centre, Scott Wilson Co. Louth GC, Steven Quinlan, Seamus Clinton Letterkenny GC, David Higgins Waterville Golf Links
76 Ian Brennan Greenore GC, Brian Doheny, Graham Byrne Palmerstown Stud GC, Ciaran Boggan County Meath GC, Paul Stevenson Portadown GC, Sean Whelan Ballinrobe GC, Rebecca Codd, Kenny Fahey GUI National Academy, Mark O’Mahony Titleist National Fitting Centre,
77 Brian Kerley Green Life Golf Centre, Michael Kelly Dun Laoghaire GC, Sean Cannon Athenry GC, Cian Curley Royal Tara GC, John Murray Malahide GC, Peter O’Hagan Luttrellstown Castle GC, David Hughes Massereene GC, David Barry Douglas GC , Conor Deegan Dun Laoghaire GC, Bert Mackay Castlerock GC, Ryan Madigan Waterford Castle GC, Liam Bowler Wexford GC
78 Brian McCormack Edenderry Golf Academy, Adam Dunmore Bundoran GC, Conor Gorevan Hermitage GC, Dara Lernihan Elm Park GC, Michael O’Shea Rathsallagh GC, Brian McCormack Galway GC
79 Shaun Donnelly Castle Hume GC, Chris Moriarty Open Fairways Limite, David Leathem Nevada Bobs Belfast, Joe Murray Hollystown GC, Bernard Quigley Tullamore GC, Leo Hynes Killiney GC, Paul Masterson Coollattin GC, Peter Morgan Elm Park GC
80 Diarmaid Fraser Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, Alan Staunton Hollywood Lakes GC, Leslie Walker Dundalk GC
81 Philip McLaughlin Royal Dublin GC, Brendan Walton Island GC, William Noble County Cavan GC, Conor Russell Sutton GC, Stephen McCarthy Black Bush GC
82 Brian Sweeney Sutton GC, Thomas Johnston Castlerock GC, Christopher Carvill Belvoir Park GC, Cormac Power St Helen’s Bay GC, Leonard Owens Royal Dublin GC, Jerry Scullion Kilkeel GC,
83 Gregory Leech, Mark O’Boyle Heath GC
84 Victoria Bradshaw, Mark Peat Bray GC, Phil Collins Galgorm Castle GC, Marian Riordan Ballykisteen Hotel & Golf Resort
86 Graham Sweeney Balbriggan GC, David Walker Foxrock GC
WD Nigel Howley Balbriggan GC, Peter Martin Colin Park Golf Academy
DQ Michael Stanford Dunmurry GC, Peter Hanna Lurgan GC