The weather might have been surprisingly benign but there was nothing unusual about the name at the top of the leaderboard as Walker Cup player Jack Hume took a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin.
The 22-year old world amateur number nine was the hot favourite with the bookies and many of his peers before the off.
And he didn’t disappoint on a day of mild, 15 mph southwest breezes at the pristine Bull Island links, where he holed a 60 yard lob wedge for an eagle at the sixth and cancelled out two bogeys with five birdies in what was a personal best, five under par 67 in the event.
“I think I played well enough to be a couple lower but I’m happy with that,” said Hume after breaking 70 for only the second time in 17 Irish Amateur Open championship rounds at a course, where he opened with a 69 to share the first round lead last year only to end up tied 20th.
“It was so much more enjoyable just to be able to swing freely and not have to feel like you almost have to balance yourself over the ball,” Hume said of the oddly pleasant conditions at an event where last year's four under par total was the first sub-par winning aggregate since Portugal's Pedro Figuerido shot 10 under 278 to win by seven shots in 2008.
While the wind shifted to the southeast in the afternoon and the temperature dropped quickly, the lack of a seriously testing breeze did not result in a rash of low scores around a shorted by 137 yards to 7,160 yards with tees pushed up by an average of 25 yards at the seventh, 10th 12th, 13th and 17th.
Chasing his third title this year, Hume got off to a flying start by following birdies at the second, third and fifth with that hole-out for an eagle three at the sixth putting him five under par.
He then completed what he described as a “mad” front nine of four under 31 with a bogey-birdie-bogey run from the seventh becoming coming home in one under 36 with eight pars and a lone birdie at the par-five 14th.
He leads by stroke from Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell, Waterford’s Eanna Griffin and Sam Whitaker from Blankness Golf Club in Lincolnshire with 69s for Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell, Edmondstown’s Barry Daly and Irish Close champion Tiarnan McLarnon from Massereene leaving them in a five-way tie for fifth with the Isle of Man’s Tom Gandy and England’s Adam Chapman, who was bogey free.
“He just doesn’t give you a break, does he?” joked Campbell of the impressive Hume after a 68 that featured an eagle, three birdies and just one bogey. “He is just so consistent. He is playing great golf and has been since the Walker Cup last year.”
Campbell birdied the 18th thanks to a rescue to five feet and he was happy with his career low round at Royal Dublin.
“The conditions were perfect,” he said. “When we teed off it was only a one club wind. Ideal for links golf
“I chipped in for eagle at the sixth to go three under, bogeyed the seventh, missed a few chances and then holed a good second putt for par from 10 feet at the 10th to keep the momentum going.”
Campbell then birdied the 13th thanks to an four iron to eight feet before finishing with a fine three.
“I am playing a lot more consistently than I was this time last year,” said Campbell. “I am a lot more patient. I am not forcing it as much I am just sticking to a good game plan and if I hit it in trouble I don’t try to hit a spectacular shot, I just take my medicine and try to make par. It’s all down to experience.”
A newcomer to the Irish panel this year as he mixes golf with early morning work at his father’s stable in Slieverue just outside Waterford, Griffin is hoping to break into the senior team and play in the Home Internationals in September.
And he believes that after a slow start to the year, yesterday’s 68 could be the round he needs to build some confidence and contend for the championship win that would guarantee him that green blazer.
“I want to play for Ireland and if you win championships that should cover you,” said Griffin, who eagled the second thanks to a six-iron to eight feet and followed sloppy bogeys at the seventh and eighth with birdies at the 10th, 11th, 14th and 16th in a brilliant homeward 33.
“If I play my own golf, that should be good enough, I just need to get some confidence and I will be away because I know the good golf is in there.”
It's a credit to his work ethic — and his coach, Shane O'Grady — that Griffin is now one of the leading Irish players
"Four years ago I was off four handicap and he has got me down to plus three," Griffin said. "I’d highly recommend him."
Irish Close champion McLarnon birdied the 14th, 16th and 18th for an excellent 69 in the tougher afternoon conditions but it was a disappointing day for some of the other senior Irish players.
West of Ireland winner Jonathan Yates, East and South of Ireland champion Stuart Grehan, Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy, Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith and Tramore’s Robin Dawson all signed for three over 75s that left them tied 70th in the 120-man field.
The most "interesting" round of the day came from England’s Steve Robins, who hit 17 greens in regulation and made three birdies and no bogeys in a two over 74.
His big error came at the 11th where he drove out of bounds, finding the road by an inch, hit three off the tee and then lost his three wood approach en route to a quintuple bogey 10 at the 560-yard par-five
Flogas Irish Amateur Open, The Royal Dublin (Par 72)
67 Jack Hume (Naas)
68 Eanna Griffin (Waterford), Colm Campbell Jnr (Warrenpoint), Sam Whitaker (England)
69 Adam Chapman (England), Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene), Tom Gandy (Isle of Man), Barry Daly (Edmondstown), Conor Purcell (Portmarnock)
70 Matthew Jordan (England), Khaled Attieh (Saudi Arabia)
71 Cathal Butler (Kinsale), Vitor Lopes (Portugal), William Enefer (England), Patrick Mullins (Wales), Loris Schuepbach (Switzerland), Alex Gleeson (Castle), Sean Ryan (The Royal Dublin), Daniel Holland (Castle), Gian-Marco Petrozzi (England)
72 Kevin Le Blanc (The Island), James Sugrue (Mallow), Jack Yule (England), Jack McDonnell (Forrest Little.), Ronan Mullarney (Galway), Sean Flanagan (Co. Sligo), Timo Vahlenkamp (Germany), Cian Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown), Ferdinand Frederik Muller (Germany), Gary Collins (Rosslare), Bradley Moore (England)
73 Julian Hausweiler (Germany), Craig Ross (Scotland), Neil McKinstry (Cairndhu), Rhys Nevin-Wharton (England), Colin Fairweather (Knock), Patrick Ruff (England), Oliver Clarke (England), Cameron Long (England), Liam Johnston (Scotland), Gary McDermott (Carton House), Jamie Li (England), Maximilian Boegel (Germany), David Hague (England)
74 Liam Grehan (Mullingar), Jamie Savage (Scotland), Owen Edwards (Wales), Michael Reid (Galgorm Castle), Tim Bombosch (Germany), Shaun Carter (The Royal Dublin), Ian O'Rourke (The Royal Dublin), Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock), Joe Lyons (Galway), Michael Harradine (Switzerland), Jack Singh Brar (England), Charlie Strickland (England), Aaron Grant (Dundalk), Marco Penge (England), Evan Griffith (Wales), Connor Syme (Scotland), Dwayne Mallon (Dungannon), George Bloor (England), Thomas Mulligan (Co. Louth), Mark Shanahan (Castlemartyr), Gavin Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick), Steven Robins (England), Rasmus Neergaard-Peterson (Denmark), Maximilian Holzwarth (Germany), Jake Whelan (Newlands)
75 Niklas Adank (Germany), Nicolas Schellong (Czech Republic), Declan Reidy (Co. Sligo), Phil Tomkinson (England), Adam Wilson (Wales), Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk), Kieron Harman (Wales), Tomas Silva (Portugal), Stuart Grehan (Tullamore), Jonathan Yates (Naas), John Hickey (Cork), Nathan Brader (Portugal), John-Ross Galbraith (Whitehead), Pierre Verlaar (Netherlands), Sigot Lopez (Spain), Robin Dawson (Tramore), Dermot McElroy (Ballymena), James Fox (Portmarnock)
76 Robert Cannon (Balbriggan), Joao Girao (Portugal), Conor O'Rourke (Naas), Pierre Pineau (France), Nick MacAndrew (Scotland), Jiri Zuska (Czech Republic)
77 Paul Coughlan (Moate), Moritz Hausweiler (Germany), Harry Duggan (Kilkenny), Thomas Hackett (The Royal Dublin), Fraser Davren (Scotland), Benjamin Kinsley (Scotland), Robert Foley (Switzerland), Christian Braeunig (Germany), Kyle Harman (Wales)
78 Matthew Kane (Whitehead), Rowan Lester (Hermitage), Jonathan Thomson (England), David Ramsay (Wales), Calum Fyfe (Scotland), Michael Ryan (New Ross), Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle)
79 Barry Anderson (The Royal Dublin), Ben Best (Rathmore), Andrew Mccormack (Castletroy), James Newton (England), William Russell (Clandeboye), Tom Murray (England)
80 Jack Davidson (Wales)
82 Ben Firth (England), Declan O'Neill (Carton House), Eugene Smith (Ardee)
84 Scott Gibson (Scotland)