Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell made yet another claim an international cap when he defied afternoon winds gusting over 20mph to open with a one under 71 in the Pierse Motors sponsored South of Ireland Amateur Open at Lahinch.
Just eight players in the 150-strong field broke par on the pristine Co Clare links but with a fresh southwest breeze making life tough for the afternoon starters, three of the top five scores were record in the first three groups of the day.
Newlands’ Jake Whelan fired a four under 68 in the second match out, racking up and eagle and four birdies, to lead by one stroke lead from Mallow’s Paul McCarthy, who was in group three.
The objective is to finish in the top 64 after today’s second round and qualify for the matchplay stages tomorrow.
And while the Irish selectors will have made up their minds about most of the side of next month’s Home Internationals at Nairn in Scotland, performances this week may resolve a few doubts.
The Island’s Paul McBride and Castle’s Alex Gleeson, both of whom opened with solid 70s in the more testing afternoon conditions to share third place, are considered certain to make the trip to Scotland.
But the 71s yesterday included West of Ireland runner up Daniel Holland, Dundalk’s Aaron Grant, international John Ross Galbraith and 19-year old Portmarnock talent Purcell, whose recent performances in the Interprovincials and the North of Ireland Championship have marked him out as a potential new cap.
“It’s my last championship this year,” said Purcell, who is a son of Portmarnock’s Head Professional Joey Purcell. “Well, my last unless I get the call. I head off to college in North Carolina next month but I am available, obviously, if I get picked for Ireland.”
A Boys International in 2014 and 2015, Purcell made the Senior squad this year and impressed in the Interprovincial Championship at Fota Island, winning all three singles and four points out of six in total.
“Hopefully this week I can put my name in the hat and go straight from the boys into the men’s team.” said Purcell, who fell to eventual runner up Tiarnan McLarnon in the last 16 at Royal Portrush last week. “He went all the way to the final. So I was happy enough with the week.
“Today, I had five birdies and four bogeys and dropped a few sloppy shots on the back nine on 14 and 15 with two iron shots that came up way short of the green. Apart from that I hit the ball very well.”
Recently crowned North of Ireland champion Sean Flanagan from Co Sligo had four birdies and four bogeys in a 72 to share ninth with Devin Morley from Oughterard, Carton House’s Keith Egan, Cairndhu’s Stephen Watts, former winner Robbie Cannon and American Cole Madey from Oregon, the world No 560.
South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship, sponsored by Pierse Motors Volkswagen Ltd, Lahinch GC (Par 72)
Round one CSS =75
68 Jake Whelan (Newlands)
69 Paul McCarthy (Mallow)
70 Paul McBride (Island), Alex Gleeson (Castle)
71 Aaron Grant (Dundalk), Conor Purcell (Portmarnock), John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead), Daniel Holland (Castle)
72 Devin Morley (Oughterard), Keith Egan (Carton House), Stephen Watts (Cairndhu), Sean Flanagan (Co. Sligo), Robert Cannon (Balbriggan), Cole Madey (USA)
73 Evan Farrell (Ardee), Greg Mungovan (Headfort), Jamie Sutherland (Galgorm Castle), Robin Dawson (Tramore), Rowan Lester (Hermitage), Pat Murray (Limerick), Gary Collins (Rosslare), David Brady (Co. Sligo), Mark Mullen (Rosslare)
74 Daniel Brennan (Shannon), Dean McMahon (Castletroy), Rob Brazill (Naas), Luke Donnelly (Kilkenny), John Hickey (Cork), Peter O' Keeffe (Douglas), Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene), Liam Grehan (Mullingar), Marc Nolan (Delgany), Eanna Griffin (Waterford), Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle), Michael Ryan (New Ross)
75 Stuart Bleakley (Shandon Park), Colm Campbell Jnr (Warrenpoint), William Small (Tandragee), Eugene Smith (Ardee), Paul Carey (Nenagh), Colin Fairweather (Knock), Gavin Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick), Shaun Carter (The Royal Dublin), Mark Morrissey (Mount Wolseley), Gerard Dunne (Co. Louth), Arthur Pierse (Tipperary), Paul O'Hara (Kilkenny), Des Morgan (New Forest), Declan Reidy (Co. Sligo), James Gerard Fox (Portmarnock), Fergal O'Sullivan (Tralee)
76 Jack McDonnell (Forrest Little.), Justin Kehoe (Limerick), Peter Sheehan (Ballybunion), Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock), Paul O'Hanlon (Carton House), Cathal Nolan (Galway), Ronan Mullarney (Galway), Michael O'Kelly (Limerick), Ed Hickey (Shannon), Stephen Coulter (Warrenpoint), Gavin Smyth (Clonmel), Ben Best (Rathmore), Marc Norton (Belvoir Park)
77 Mark Ford (Cork), Alec Myles (Newlands), Eoin O'Connor (Ballybunion), Michael Reddan (Limerick), Dylan Brophy (Castleknock), Dave O'Donovan (Muskerry), Ian Spillane (Mallow), Keith Murphy (Charlesland), Andrew McCormack (Castletroy), Ed Stack (Ballybunion), Cathal Butler (Kinsale), Ted Collins (Dun Laoghaire), Mark MacGrath (Limerick), David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown)
78 Eamonn Haugh (Castletroy), Ally Purdy (Ballyclare), Sean Poucher (Limerick), Eoin Glynn (Lahinch), Eoin Leonard (Wentworth), Shane McGlynn (Portmarnock), Michael Reid (Galgorm Castle), Gareth Lappin (Belvoir Park), Shane Hogan (Nenagh), Gavin Young (Nenagh), Ryan Berkeley (Dun Laoghaire)
79 Rory Williamson (Holywood), Sean Walsh (Carton House), Paul Murphy (Rosslare), Eddie Power (Kilkenny), Thomas Mulligan (Co. Louth), Darragh Coghlan (Portmarnock), John Greene (Portmarnock), Jack Pierse (Portmarnock), Cian Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown), Nils Conway (Grange), Owen O'Brien (Limerick), Clayton Madey (USA), Brian Shally (Dromoland)
80 Colin Woodroofe (Blainroe), Stefan Greenberg (Tandragee), Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin), Ross Steedman (Courtown), Kyle McCarron (North West), Jack Ryan (Castletroy), Thomas Neenan (Lahinch), Niall O'Reilly (Clonmel), Peter Kane (Ashbourne), Darragh Crawford (Bundoran), Conor Byrne (USA), Thomas O'Connor (Athlone)
81 Peter Redmond (Beech Park), Declan McInerney (Lahinch), Michael Buggy (Castlecomer), Graham Nugent (Kilkenny), Tony O'Leary (Rosslare), Joe Lyons (Galway), Stephen Walsh (Portmarnock), Marc Boucher (Carton House)
82 John Conroy (Portmarnock), Tony Cleary (Woodstock), Jamie Fletcher (Warrenpoint), Jason O'Donnell (Shannon), Brian Doran (Baltinglass), Barry Daly (Edmondstown), Gary Ward (Kinsale), Sam Sweeney (USA), Robbie Pierse (Grange), James Sugrue (Mallow)
83 David Reddan (Nenagh), Alan Thomas (Dungarvan), Jack Walsh (Castle), Brett Macias (Palmerstown Stud), Colm Crowley (Woodbrook)
84 Gary McGrane (The Royal Dublin), Cillian Moloney (Fota Island)
85 Ruairi O'Connor (Co. Sligo), Anthony Sweeney (Woodstock), Robert Farrell (New Ross), Peter McKeever (Castle)
86 Conor Ryan (Dun Laoghaire), Tom Griffin (Crews Hill)
87 John Reynolds (Dungarvan), Aaron Moore (Adare Manor)
88 Sean Burns (Dromoland)
NR Brian Gilligan (Woodstock),
RT Sean Ryan (The Royal Dublin)