Jimmy Bolger battled wet and windy conditions to win the inaugural Christy O'Connor Jnr Irish PGA Championship Pro-Am at Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort.
The Kilkenny professional collected six birdies in all, his only blemish coming at the 11th when he three-putted for double-bogey.
“It's a big tough course but I played solidly. The greens are very good, true and running fast,” said Bolger.
“It's demanding off the tee in places – 16 and 18 are tight tee shots. A lot will depend on the weather conditions this week. If it's windy, it will suit some of the bigger hitters. Either way, it will reward good ball-striking.”
Many of the pro-am competitors were getting a close look at the North Kildare venue for the first time including defending champion Niall Kearney.
“The greens are flying,” said Kearney after signing for a two-over par 74.
“It's very flat and if it gets windy it will be tough. It's certainly very different from Adare and Dundalk [venues for his victories in 2014 and 2015].”
Sporting legends, Ian Rush, Steve Staunton and Niall Quinn played in today's Pro-Am as did former Ryder Cup vice-captain, Des Smyth, who was determined to take part in the tournament which honoured his great friend Christy O'Connor.
“He was a larger than life figure both on the course and off the course. That's what made Christy so popular,” said Smyth who will be jetting out to the US early next week to do some radio work at the Ryder Cup in Hazeltine.
“He could deliver on the course and he could deliver off the course and not many guys can do that - I certainly can't. He was a great friend of ours and we miss him.”
Smyth has an enviable record in the Irish PGA Championship, winning the title on six previous occasions, and he was impressed by what he saw at Moyvalley, describing it as a 'proper challenge'.
“I'm not playing in the Championship this week because I have a bit of a hip problem and at 63, I don't think I can keep up with these young guys,” he added.
“I didn't know what to expect coming down here but I was quietly impressed.Fairways are great and greens are good.”
Simon Thornton guided his amateur partners - Paul Carey, Denis Sherlock and Charlie Cavanagh – to victory in the team event with 92 points.
The Irish PGA Championship gets underway on Thursday morning at 8am.
- The 106th Irish PGA Championship is being staged - In Association with Title Sponsors Moyvalley Hotel & Golf Resort, Official Media Partners Golf Digest Ireland and Classic Hits 4FM and with support from House of Waterford Crystal and Skycaddie.
- An injury forced Philip Walton out of the Pro-Am and the Championship.
Christy O'Connor Jnr Irish PGA Championship Pro-Am, Moyvalley Hotel & Golf Resort (Par 72)
68 Jimmy Bolger (Kilkenny)
69 Simon Thornton, Cian McNamara (Monkstown GC)
70 Colm Moriarty (Drive Golf Performance Ltd), Richard Kilpatrick (Banbridge), Dara Lernihan (Elm Park)
72 Eamonn Brady (Clontarf), Michael McDermott (Pure Golf Leopardstown), Damien McGrane, Damian Mooney (Nevada Bobs Belfast), Mark Staunton (Delgany).