Baltinglass' Joseph Byrne celebrated his 15th birthday in style when he defied high winds to fire a one-under 70 and claim the top prize in the first TaylorMade Winter Series event of the year at Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links.
Winner of the Leinster Under 13 Boys in 2016 and the Leinster Under 14 crown with a 62 at Corballis last June, he showed his liking for links golf again on Tuesday when he birdied the 18th to top the 62-strong field.
Playing off scratch, Byrne won the nett by two shots from three-handicapper Sean Dowling from The Island (72) and by three from Castle's Eoghan McKeever (73) who is playing off two.
Laytown and Bettystown's plus two international Thomas Mulligan, a freshman at the University of Oregon, shot a level par 71 to win the gross by a shot from Halpenny Golf professional Steven Quinlan with the GUI National Academy's Niall McGlynn third with a 76.
Byrne bogeyed the fourth but birdied the eighth to go out in level par, then parred every hole on the back nine before completing a memorable day with a closing birdie three in difficult conditions.
Dowling mixed bogeys at the first, fifth and seventh with birdies at the second and ninth to be out in one-over par, then came home in 38 for a 75, nett 72, with bogeys at the 10th, 13th and 16th.
McKeever bogeyed the first and was out in one-over par, then bogeyed the 10th, 13th and 18th for a 75 and third place in the nett with a 73.
Mulligan had four birdies, including one at the last, in his level par 71 alongside younger brother Daniel while wind specialist Quinlan compiled a solid 72 featuring four birdies, three bogeys and a lone double bogey at the tough, par-five 13th.
Graham McDonnell holed his second shot for an eagle two at the 18th but his 76 meant he was one of four players edged out on a countback by McGlynn.
Membership at Portmarnock Links is now open for a limited period with vacancies in the 7-day, 5-day and intermediate categories for keen golfers looking to play off pristine turf all year round.
TaylorMade Winter Series, Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links (Par 71, SSS 74, CSS 76)
Tuesday 2nd January
- Joseph Byrne (Scr) Baltinglass 70
- Sean Dowling (3) The Island 72
- Eoghan McKeever (2) The Castle 73
- Thomas Mulligan (Laytown & Bettystown) 71
- Steven Quinlan (Halpenny Golf) 72
- Niall McGlynn (GUI National Academy) 76