Gary McDermott was the only player to break 70 on a day of attrition in the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin.
The 32-year old, now playing out of Carton House, was one of just four players to dip under par, carding four birdies and just one bogey in a three under 69 to lead by a stroke from Scottish Amateur champion Alexander Culverwell (70).
Sem Westdijk of the Netherlands) and Tom Gandy from the Isle of Man are tied for third after 71s on a day when the wind switched 180 degrees late in the morning, eventually gusting strongly out of the southwest to leave the field struggling on the homeward stretch with the average score exactly 76.0.
“It was set up perfectly and we definitely got the best part of the day,” said bank official McDermott. “It got very wet in the middle of the round but I got the job done”
Beaten in the first round of his beloved “West” after picking up a bug and losing 8 lbs, the Ballincar man produced one of his trademark grinding performances, holing out well for pars with his only bogey coming at the 14th, where he airmailed the green with his pitch.
“I didn’t hit the ball particularly well but holed my fair share of putts from eight to 10 feet and my short game was on,” said McDermott who birdied the second, sixth, 12th and 15th, where he hit a nine iron stone dead.
West of Ireland champion Jack Hume had two birdies and two bogeys in a 72 to match Tullamore's Stuart Grehan while Geoff Lenehan, Colin Fairweather and Colm Campbell shot 73s to match 17-year old South African Thriston Lawrence, who won the Lytham Trophy last Sunday.
"One under was the most I got to but I didn’t putt well to be honest, said Hume. "I holed out well inside five feet but holed little else. The wind changed a bit. We had it into off the right on front nine and then it switched. I holed my par putts so overall it’s a decent start."
Reigning Irish Under 15 champion Kevin Le Blanc of The Island, who turned 16 just last Tuesday, went out in a wind-assisted 32 but came home in 42 for a 74 that left him tied with the likes of Irish Close champion Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass), Rory McNamara (Headfort), Robin Dawson (Faithlegg), Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene), Jeff Hopkins (The Royal Dublin), Stephen Healy (Claremorris), Barry Anderson (The Royal Dublin), Sean Ryan (The Royal Dublin) and Carton House pair David Carey and Shane McGlynn.
Reeve Whitson and Dermot McElroy both got caught in a lunchtime squall and double bogeyed the 18th for 76s.
"It wasn’t hard out there, I just hit too many fairway bunkers off the tee and missed too many putts," McElroy said. "I just need to drive it straight tomorrow. I don’t mind Royal Dublin as a course but the weather just seems to be awful every year."
As for Whitson, he said: "It wasn’t tough but it was miserable and I had a shocking finish. We got a heavy shower on 15 and I just got drenched and dropped a load of shots coming in, knocked it out of bounds on the last with my second. I seem to do it here every year."
Defending champion Robbie Cannon, jet-lagged after his recent appearance in the Concession Cup in Florida, shot a 78.
How the course played - Average score 78.00
Irish Amateur Open, Royal Dublin (par 72)
69 Gary McDermott (Carton House)
70 Alexander Culverwell (Scotland)
71 Tom Gandy (Isle of Man), Sem Westdijk (Netherlands)
72 Ashley Mason (England), Jack Hume (Naas), Stuart Grehan (Tullamore)
73 Robbie van West (Netherlands), Matt Kippen (England), Scott Gibson (Scotland), Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock), Colin Fairweather (Knock), Janes Lombardo (Germany), Thriston Lawrence (South Africa), Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint)
74 Hinrich Arkenau (Germany), Jamie Savage (Scotland), Stephen Healy (Claremorris), Kevin Le Blanc (The Island), Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene), Rory McNamara (Headfort), Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass), Henry Tomlinson (England), Robin Dawson (Faithlegg), Jeff Hopkins (The Royal Dublin)
75 Haydn McCullen (England), Ian O'Rourke (The Royal Dublin), Miki Kuronen (Finland), Eanna Griffin (Waterford), Daniel Holland (Castle), Nick MacAndrew (Scotland), William Hanna (Kilkeel), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (South Africa), Barry Anderson (The Royal Dublin), Darragh Coghlan (Portmarnock), Seamus Cullen (Slieve Russell)
76 Simon Bryan (Delgany), Paul Mc Bride (The Island), Lauri Ruuska (Finland), Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin), Kelan McDonagh (The Royal Dublin), John Greene (Portmarnock), Ben Best (Rathmore), Eugene Smith (Ardee), Craig Howie (Scotland), Reeve Whitson (Mourne), Dylan Boshart (Netherlands), Dermot McElroy (Ballymena), Gus Mottershead (England)
77 Ross Hopwood (England), Chris Carroll (Shandon Park), James Allan (England), John-Ross Galbraith (Whitehead), Sigot Lopez (Spain), Liam Hutchinson (The Royal Dublin)
78 Adam Dunton (Scotland), Assaf Choen (Israel), Jack Bush (Wales), Adam Wilson (Wales), Richard Bridges (Stackstown), Rowan Lester (Hermitage), Anthony Blaney (Scotland), Paul Coughlan (Moate), Robert Cannon (Balbriggan), Kieran McCarthy (Castlemartyr), Kristian Kulokorpi (Finland), James Fox (Portmarnock), Connor Syme (Scotland)
79 Eddy Holland (England), Sean Ryan (The Royal Dublin), Gerard Lawlor (Rathsallagh), Joao Magalhaes (Portugal), David Deschler (USA), Marco Penge (England), Bradley Neil (Scotland), Gordon Stevenson (Scotland), John Duff (Scotland), Eddie McCormack (Galway), Ewen Ferguson (Scotland), Conor O'Rourke (Naas)
80 Daniel Young (Scotland), Ryan Symington (Lisburn), Scott Borrowman (Scotland), Declan Reidy (Co. Sligo), Sean Moran (Carton House), Vitor Lopes (Portugal), James Yeomans (England), Gareth Lappin (Belvoir Park), Stephen McCarthy (Black Bush), Michael Harradine (Switzerland), Eoin Arthurs (Forrest Little.)
81 Gary Collins (Rosslare), Shaun O'Connor (Luttrellstown Castle), Alexander Verschaeren (Luxembourg), Paul Reilly (Scotland)
82 Mark Shanahan (Castlemartyr), Andre Tourinho (Brazil), Richard O'Donovan (Lucan), David Brady (Co. Sligo), Alan Sutherland (Scotland)
83 Steffan O'Hara (Co. Sligo), Laurens Jansen (Netherlands), John McGinn (Laytown & Bettystown), Louis Leysen (Belgium), Daniel Kay (Scotland), Lukas Lipold (Austria), William Russell (Clandeboye)
84 Cameron Mills (Shandon Park), Roy Connolly (Palmerstown Stud), Gaetan Van Baarle (Belgium), Goncalo Costa (Portugal)
85 Adrien Michellod (Switzerland), Simon Zach (Czech Republic), Daniel Brennan (Shannon)
86 NJ Arnoldi (South Africa), David Carey (Carton House)
88 Yair Taler (Israel)
91 Luis Thiele (Brazil), Shane McGlynn (Carton House)
92 Petr Dedek (Czech Republic)
DQ Colin Baird (Scotland), Craig Ross (Scotland)