World No 10 Jack Hume lived up to his billing as title favourite when he posted a two over 72 to share sixth place after the opening round of the Lytham Trophy at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
On another typically gruelling day at the Lancashire links that saw West of Ireland winner Jonathan Yates, Maynooth’s Robin Dawson and Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell card 73s for a share of 13th, only two players in the 158-strong field broke par.
The honour fell to Sunridge Park’s Alfie Plant, who bogeyed the third but then eagled the seventh and birdied the 10th and 12th en route to a three under 67 for a two-shot lead over Bath’s Jamie Li (69).
Nairn’s Sandy Scott and the talented Swiss, Mathias Eggenberger are third after level par 70s with Southerness’ Scott Gibson and American James Glenn joint fifth after one over 71s.
Naas star Hume bogeyed the fourth, fifth and sixth before playing the remaining 12 holes in one under thanks to 11 pars and a birdie four at the 11th.
He shares seventh on two over with Khaled Attieh (Saudi Arabia), Raphael Geissler (Germany), Connor Syme (Drumoig), Bradley Moore (Kedleston Park) and Jonathan Goth-Rasmussen (Denmark).
Attieh, Syme and Moore will all be in action at Royal Dublin in next week’s Flogas Irish Amateur Open. But for now they are chasing the Sputnik Trophy, which was last captured by an Irish player in 2010 when Paul Cutler won by three strokes on four over 284.
Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty, fresh from his win in the Dundalk Scratch Cup last weekend, posted an excellent 74.
Lytham Trophy, Royal Lytham and St Annes (Par 70)
67 Alfie Plant (Sunridge Parl
69 Jamie Li (Bath)
70 Sandy Scott (Nairn), Mathias Eggenberger (Switzerland)
71 Scott Gibson (Southerness), James Glenn (USA)
72 Khaled Attieh (Saudi Arabia), Jack Hume (Naas), Raphael Geissler (Germany), Connor Same (Drumoig), Bradley Moore (Kedleston Park), Jonathan Goth-Rasmussen (Denmark)
73 Jonathan Yates (Naas), Robin Dawson (Tramore), Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint);
74 Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk);
75 Alex Gleeson (Castle), Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene), Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock);
76 Sean Flanagan (Co. Sligo), John-Ross Galbraith (Whitehead), Eugene Smith (Ardee);
77 Thomas Mulligan (County Louth), Ronan Mullarney (Galway), Stuart Grehan (Tullamore);
78 Colin Fairweather (Knock);
79 Eanna Griffin (Waterford), Gary Collins (Rosslare);
80 Dermot McElroy (Ballymena);
87 Rowan Lester (Hermitage).