Banbridge's Richard Kilpatrick, Limerick'sTim Rice and Drive Golf Performance professional Colm Moriarty opened with six-under par 66s lead the 107th Irish PGA Championship at Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort.
The trio has a one-shot lead over Castlewarden's Mark Whelan with Kilkeel's Jerry Scullion alone in fourth on four under par.
“I have been playing well recently and I knew something was going to happen,” said Kilpatrick who went bogey-free in his six-birdie round.
“I finished the recent Pro-Am at Carne with a 66 and that gave me some added confidence coming down here. I just continued doing the same things.
“I really felt that today was a good day to make a score. The course is playing firm, it wasn't very windy and it was generous.”
Moriarty and Rice also signed for bogey-free rounds on a day when 26 players matched or bettered par around the Twin Oaks course.
Colm has made a quiet start to the season but he has played his way into contention at the previous two Irish PGA Championships without managing to get his hands on the trophy.
“I haven't played an awful lot this season and I feel like I am only coming into some sharpness now. I played nicely and game myself a lot of chances today,” said the 38-year-old.
Rice, who missed last year's championship, is still getting to grips with the layout after carding a two-over par 74 in Wednesday's pre-tournament pro-am.
He said: “I'm happy enough with that. It was tricky at times because of the cross wind but it was pleasing to start with that score today.”
Defending champion, Damien McGrane, opened with a two-under par 70 and was joined on that mark by Waterville's David Higgins, former European Tour winner Simon Thornton, St Margaret's Shane Jenkinson, Bundoran' Adam Dunmore and Michael McGeady from the Seamus Duffy Golf Academy.
“It's a steady start and I'm exactly where I want to be,” said Damien.
“I played steadily from start to finish, holed a few putts and missed a few but I played the par threes poorly today.”
The second round of the 107th Irish PGA Championship sponsored by Moyvalley Hotel & Twin Oaks Golf Resort will get underway at 8 am on Friday with the final four-ball starting at 2.30pm.
At the end of play, a cut will be made with the top 50 and ties progressing to the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday. Spectators are welcome and entry is free.
Irish PGA, Moyvalley Hotel & Golf Resort, Twin Oaks Championship Course (Par 72)
66 Richard Kilpatrick (Banbridge GC), Tim Rice (Limerick GC), Colm Moriarty (Drive Golf Performance Ltd)
67 Mark Whelan (Castlewarden Golf & Country Club)
68 Jerry Scullion (Kilkeel GC)
70 David Higgins (Waterville Golf Links), Shane Jenkinson (St Margaret’s Golf & Country Club), Adam Dunmore (Bundoran GC), Damien McGrane (Unatt.), Simon Thornton (Simon Thornton Golf), Michael McGeady (Seamus Duffy Golf Academy)
71 Donal Gleeson (Old Conna GC), David Ryan (Cahir Park GC), Keith Shannon (Unatt), Cian McNamara (Monkstown GC)
72 Eoin Arthurs (Kinsealy Grange Golf Academy), Kelan McDonagh (GUI National Academy), Tara Delaney (The Eddie Doyle Golf Academy), Eddie Tracey (Ballina GC), Liam Whelan (Craddockstown GC) . Brian O’Reilly (Glenlo Abbey GC), Damian Mooney (Damian Mooney Golf), Mark Staunton (Delgany GC), Hazel Kavanagh (Carr Golf Centre at Spawell), Mark O’Sullivan (Piltown Driving Range), Joe Dillon (Headfort GC)
73 Bernard Quigley (Tullamore GC), David Ruddy (Ballykisteen Hotel & Golf Resort), Donal Murphy (Grange Castle GC), Daniel O’Connor (Athlone GC), Kevin Foy (Stepaside Golf Centre), Christopher Carvill (Belvoir Park GC), Eamonn Brady (Clontarf GC), Jimmy Bolger (Kilkenny GC), Ted Higgins (www.tedhiggins.com), James Quinlivan (Mullingar GC)
74 Harry Coyne (Carton House Golf Course), Anthony Hanlon (Stackstown GC), Michael McDermott (Grange GC), Brian Jnr McCormack (Edenderry Golf Academy, David Barry (Douglas GC), Steven Quinlan (Halpenny GC), Niall McGlynn (GUI National Academy)
75 Mark Ruddy (Charlesland G&CC), Callum Slater (Headfort GC), Josh Adams (Stackstown GC), Seamus Clinton (Gormastown Driving Range & Golf), Iarlaith Keane (Unatt), Richard Creamer (Arklow GC), Derry Kiely (Faithlegg GC), Brian Doheny (Callan GC)
76 Conor Coyne (Lisheen Springs GC), Michael O’Shea (Rathsallagh GC), Barry Davis (Greystones GC), Ciaran Lavery (Concra Wood GC), Dean Redmond (Heritage Golf & Country Club), Dearbhla Behan (Unatt), Ciaran Molloy (Ardee GC), Ryan Donagher (Castleknock GC), Glen Robinson (Craddockstown GC), Gerry Burke (Royal Curragh GC), Daniel Beattie (Deer Park Hotel Golf & Spa), Mark O’Mahony (Titleist National Fitting Centre), Eoin O’Connor (Kilkenny GC), Ian Brennan (Greenore GC), Cian Hurley (Emirates GC)
77 Eric Byrne (Mullingar GC), Ciaran Mckenna (Mallow GC), Padraig Dooley (Drive Golf Performance Ltd), Shane Franklin (Cregmore Park GC), Brendan Walton (Unatt), Kenny Fahey (GUI National Academy), Mark Sutton (GUI National Academy), John Dignam (Slade Valley GC), John Murray (Malahide GC)
78 Karl Goodwin (Castlerock GC), David Foley (Dromoland Castle GC) Raymond Ryan (Thurles GC), Stephen McCarthy (Black Bush GC)
79 Melvyn Flanagan (Athlone Golf Academy), David Thompson (Killymoon GC), Ciaran Hegarty (Castleknock GC), Christopher Loughrey (Castlerock GC), Darragh Morrissey (Newcastle West GC), Kevin Garvey (Bellinter Golf Centre)
80 Mark Murphy (McGuirks Golf), Stephen Walsh (Royal Dublin GC), Shane McCabe (Killeen GC), William Noble (County Cavan GC)
81 Diarmaid Fraser (Killarney Golf & Fishing Club), Bernard Fitzgerald (Lisheen Springs GC)
82 Damien Scott (Farnham Estate GC), Stephen Rayfus (Knightsbrook Golf & Country Club), Andy Hogan (Edmondstown GC), Patrick Fay (Knightsbrook Golf & Country Club)
83 Stephen Barry (Royal Tara GC), Dan Hinds (City of Derry GC), Peter Morgan (Elm Park GC)
84 Rory Sweeney (Portmarnock GC), Michael Hutchinson (Lisburn GC), Jim Robinson (Co. Sligo GC), Mark Peat (Westmanstown GC)
85 Leonard Owens (Unatt)
88 Killian Cullen (County Meath GC)
89 John Casey (Grange Castle GC)
91 Matthew Weir Spa GC)
92 Anthony Judd (Forrest Little GC)
WD Mark Beckett (Killarney Golf & Fishing Club), Cormac Hennessy (St Anne’s GC), Kevin McGivern (Mannan Castle GC), David Mortimer (Galway GC), Michael Mulryan (Cregboy Golf Academy), Alan Staunton (Hollywood Lakes GC), Christopher Watt (Concra Wood GC) RTD Peter O’Hagan (Luttrellstown Castle GC), David Hughes (Massereene GC).