Fox and Griffin lead home charge in Amateur Championship
James Fox (Portmarnock) driving at the 15th tee in the semi final of the Senior Cup at the 2018 AIG Cups and Shields Finals at Thurles Golf Club today (06/10/2018). Picture by  Pat Cashman

James Fox (Portmarnock) driving at the 15th tee in the semi final of the Senior Cup at the 2018 AIG Cups and Shields Finals at Thurles Golf Club today (06/10/2018). Picture by Pat Cashman

Portmarnock's James Fox and Waterford's Eanna Griffin lead the Irish challenge after the first round of strokeplay qualifying for the 124th Amateur Championship at The Island and Portmarnock.

Dubliner Fox took advantage of a special exemption from the R&A, making three birdies and four bogeys as he carded one-over 73 on his home course that was matched by Munster interprovincial Griffin, who had three birdies and an eagle three at the 16th as well as four bogeys and a double bogey seven at the 13th.

They are tied for 32nd, five shots behind Morocco's Ayoub Ssouadi and Cornwall's Harry Hall, who shot a four-under 67s at The Island to share the lead with Germany's Anton Albers, whose four-under 68 was one of just six sub-par scores recorded at Portmarnock.

The top 64 after today's second round will make the matchplay stages at Portmarnock tomorrow with just four of the 23 Irish players inside the cut mark

Castle's Robert Moran shot a two-over 72 at The Island to share 52nd with Oughterard's Devin Morley, who had a steady 74 at Portmarnock.

But it was a tough opening day for many of Ireland's leading internationals with Caolan Rafferty's 74 at The Island as Galway's Ronan Mullarney shot 75 at Portmarnock, leaving them tied for 79th.

Portmarnock's Conor Purcell, who is the leading Irish player in the field, needs a solid second round on his home course to qualify.

He made four birdies, seven bogeys and a double-bogey seven at the 10th in a five-over 76 at The Island, which leaves him tied 143rd with Mallow's James Sugrue and Hermitage's Rowan Lester.

The Amateur Championship, Portmarnock (Par 72), The Island (Par 71)

Detailed scores

Strokeplay qualifying Rd. 1 — Leading scores

T1, A Ssouadi (Mor) 67, A Albers (Ger) 68, H Hall (West Cornwall) 67;

4, T Plumb (Yeovil) 68; 

T 5 A Del Rey Gonzalez (Esp) 70, J Robinson (Redditch) 69, T Sloman (Taunton & Pickeridge) 69, Y Premlall (RSA) 70;

T9 A Bergström (Swe) 71, C Knipes (Chelmsford) 70, J Jolkkonen (Fin) 70, D Langley (Castle Royle) 70, S Shephard (USA) 70, E Lopez Chacarra (Esp) 71, S Scott (Nairn) 71, J Axelsen (Den) 70, J Pagdin (Lake Nona) 70.

Irish scores:

T32 J Fox (Portmarnock) 73, E Griffin (Waterford) 73;

T52 R Moran (Castle) 73, D Morley (Oughterard) 74;

T79 C Rafferty (Dundalk) 74, R Mullarney (Galway) 75;

T106 T McKibbin (Holywood) 75, P Coughlan (Castleknock) 75, G Lenehan (Portmarnock) 76;

T143 J Sugrue (Mallow) 77, R Lester (Hermitage) 76, C Purcell (Portmarnock) 76, R Cannon(Balbriggan) 77;

T179 E Leonard (Wentworth) 78, R Brazill (Naas) 78;

T200 A Fahy (Dun Laoghaire) 78, P O’Keeffe (Douglas) 79, J Murphy (Kinsale) 78;

T227 TJ Ford (Co. Sligo) 79, T McLarnon (Massereene) 79;

T243 R Black (Hilton Templepatrick) 81;

T278 E Smith (The Links Portmarnock) 83;

287 C Campbell (Warrenpoint) 86.