Ballyliffin's Damien Mooney will take a three-shot lead into the final day of the Newbridge Silverware sponsored K Club Pro-Am after carding a brilliant five under par 67 at the Smurfit course yesterday.
The Belfast golfer missed the cut at the BMW PGA Championship but bounced back in some style to lead the trio of Philip Walton, Niall Kearney and Irish PGA champion, Michael McGeady.
With a prize pot of €33,000 on offer, the K Club Pro-Am has attracted a high calibre field with 44 professionals and their amateur partners playing a round on both the Smurfit Course and the Palmer Ryder Cup Course, venue for the 2006 event against the USA, which was won by Europe.
Mooney, playing the Smurfit course, opened with a birdie at the par-four first before adding two more at the fourth and fifth. He gave a shot back at the 464-yard par-four ninth, but responded with a birdie at the 10th followed by two closing birdies at the 17th and 18th.
Irish champion McGeady, also playing the Smurfit, was a picture of consistency in compiling his two under par round of 70, rattling off 16 pars and two birdies at the 11th and 14th.
It was in marked contrast to Kearney, who, playing the Ryder Cup course, struggled to the turn in three over 38 before coming home in five under 32. The Royal Dublin golfer dropped shots at six, seven and eight before producing a fine back nine with birdies at 10, 12, 13, 17 and 18.
Ryder Cup legend Philip Walton, playing the Ryder Cup course, dropped a shot at the third but bounced back with a birdie at the par five fourth. A further shot went at the par-four, 430-yard seventh but back-to-back birdies at eight and nine saw him to the turn in one under 34. His back nine was much calmer with just a single birdie at the par three 12.
In the team competition, Kearney with 95 points has a big lead over Mooney, Colm Moriarty and John Dignam all on 87.
The second round will get underway at 2pm with a shotgun start.
The K Club Pro-Am — Sponsored by Newbridge Silverware
1 Damian Mooney, Ballyliffin GC, 67
2 Philip Walton 70, Niall Kearney, Royal Dublin GC, 70, Michael McGeady 70
5 Michael McDermott, Pure Golf Leopardstown, 71
6 Peter Jones, Coollattin GC, 72
7 Hazel Kavanagh, Carr Golf Services 73, Colm Moriarty, Glasson Hotel & GC, 73, Francis Howley, Carton House GC 73
10 David Ryan, Cahir Park GC, 74, Donal Gleeson, Old Conna GC, 74, John Kelly, St Margaret's Golf & CC, 74
Leading Pro-Am team scores
1 Niall Kearney 96
2 Colm Moriarty 87, Damian Mooney 87, John Dignam 87
5 Eamonn Darcy 86
6 David Ryan 85, Gavin Kavanagh 85, Michael McGeady 85
9 Gavin Lunny 84
10 Peter Jones 83, Gary Hendley 83