McIlroy loses his way

By Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy lost his way on the back nine as Czech champion Marek Novy grabbed the first round lead in the AIB Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin.

The 18-year-old Holywood ace had scorched to four under par after just six holes at the renovated Dollymount links.

But he was disappointed to drop five shots in a six hole spell on the back nine on his way to one over par 73.

With wind and rain lashing the course, the event’s star attraction finished the day two shots adrift of 22-year-old Novy, who fired one under par 71 in the worst of the afternoon weather.

Walker Cup hopefuls Lloyd Saltman and Keir McNicoll of Scotland, Welshman Rhys Enoch and Finn Joonas Granberg share second place after level par 72s.

Ulstermen Jonny Caldwell and Richard Kilpatrick carded two over par rounds of 74 to remain in the hunt.

But McIlroy wsa disappointed to finish the day in a five-way tie for sixth place alongside the likes of US Amateur champion Richie Ramsay and Rosslare’s John Morris.

McIlroy said: "I played the front nine in four under when it was nice and calm. But on the back nine it got a little tougher and I lost my momentum. I hit a couple of loose shots and I paid the price for them but overall 73 is a pretty good score."

McIlroy fired a sand wedge to three feet at the first and then rifled a seven-iron to 15 feet to set up an eagle at the second when the weather was relatively benign.

A 70 yard bunker shot to eight feet helped him birdie the par-five sixth and put him top of the leaderboard but everything changed on the back nine as wind and rain made scoring tough for the elite 120-man field.

A bogey at the par five 11th, where he took four to get down from just short of the green, enraged McIlroy, who went on to drop three shots in the next two holes with a bogey at the par-three 12th and double bogey six at the next, where he drove into a drain.

A bogey at the 16th, where he missed a three-footer for par, ended his agony but he knows he is still well in the hunt to make amends for his play-off defeat to Finn Antti Ahokas in this championship last year.

McIlroy added: "I haven't played myself out of it. It's been an okay first day but hopefully I can improve on it tomorrow. It's just a normal links course. I think if it was calm you could rip it up."

First round

71 M Novy (Czech Republic)
72 R Enoch (Wales), J Granberg (Finland), L Saltman (Scotland), K McNicoll (Scotland)
73 R Zwahlen (France), K McAlpine (Scotland), J Morris (Rosslare), R Ramsay (Scotland), R McIlroy (Holywood)
74 L Lennox (Moyola Park), R McCarthy (The Island), N Edwards (Wales), P Figueiredo (Portugal), R Bechu (France), R Kilpatrick (Banbridge), J Caldwell (Clandeboye),
B Walton (The Island/UCD), P O'Hara (Scotland), C Geraghty (England), S McAllister (Scotland), G Campbell (Scotland), C Doran (Banbridge)
75 N Grant (Knock), P Cutler (Portstewart), K Le Sager (France), R Thuillier (France), B Fotheringham (Scotland), P Murray (Limerick), R McKnight (Scotland)
76 C Macaulay (Scotland), S Henry (Scotland), G Cambis (France), Z Gould (Wales), B Evans (England), X Poncelet (France), E Richardson (England), Z Saltman (Scotland), M Veijalainen (Finland), B Grace (South Africa), L Allen (England), A McCloy (Ballymena)
77 R Thomas (Wales), A Hogan (Newlands/UCD), D Leathem (Lisburn), A Rosado (Portugal), R Cannon (L'town & B'town), J Carvill (Warrenpoint), J Savolampi (Finland), A Ross (Canada), G Lawlor (Citywest), J McGinn (Laytown & Bettystown), M Gaynor (U.S.A.), P McLean (Scotland), N Kearney (Royal Dublin), B Westgate (England)
78 G O'Neill (Jersey), E O'Sullivan (The Island), M Armitage (England), A Runcie (Wales), M Sinclair (Knock), R McNamara (Headfort), T Ortner (Austria), S Ward (Co Louth), D Lernihan (Castle/UCD), J Lyons (Galway)
79 B Norton (U.S.A.), S McEwan (Scotland), S Doherty (Malone), J Smedley (England), E McAnoy (Knock), J Pernaa (Finland), S Lowry (UCD/Esker Hills), J Guillet (France), M Thistleton (England), D Morgan (Mullingar), W Rieder (Austria)
80 C Cousins (Wales), S Kindsted (Finland), N Henriques (Portugal), B Jones (England), J Haglund (Finland), M McCoy (U.S.A.), E O'Connell (The Fox Club), L Matthews (Wales), R Kellett (Scotland), C Vance (England)
81 M O'Sullivan (Stow Acres), R Leonard (Banbridge), S Archibald (England), T Sistonen (Finland), G Carew (Edenderry), E Mercadier (France), M Barbosa (U.S.A.), J Dale (England), T Halpen (Canada)
82 S O'Brien (U.S.A.), M Salminen (Finland), S Grant (Birr), P Nelson (South Africa), P O'Hanlon (Curragh)
83 N Catesson (France), J Vickery (Wales), E Saxel (England), N Kirchner (Austria), C Mivis (Belgium)
84 K Hammer (U.S.A.), R Boal (Scrabo)
85 A Gabella Wenne (Sweden), B Kosmin (France)
86 C Scotto (France), A Fadel (U.S.A.), W McCully (Donaghadee)
87 T Wyatt (U.S.A.)
88 T McGowan (Strandhill), N Tyry (Finland)
89 J Shufflebotham (Wales), R Merchant (Wales)
90 C Levitte (France)
93 R Maunder (England)