PORTRUSH, Ireland (July 9, 2012) -- Rathsallagh’s Jack Hume fired a five under 65 on the Valley Links as Banbridge’s Colin Wilton and Shandon Park’s Chris Carroll fired one under 71s on the Dunluce to set the pace after the first strokeplay qualifying round for the North Ireland Amateur Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
With newly-crowned Amateur champion Alan Dunbar taking a well-earned rest before next week’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes and East of Ireland and Irish Close champion Chris Selfridge recovering from Ireland’s bronze medal performance in the World University Championship in the Czech Republic, the race for the title looks wide open.
Many of the big names were in action on the Valley with Hume’s 65 leaving him a shot clear of South of Ireland champion Stephen Walsh and Daniel Vaughan of Ardlass while 2006 runner-up Connor Doran, Mourne’s Reeve Whitson, Balmoral’s Matthew McClean and Stephen Speirs of Australian club Kooyonga carded three under 67s
Last year’s beaten finalist Harry Diamond opened his account with a 68 on the shorter track while defending champion Patrick McCrudden from Royal Portrush had to settle for a 71.
While 25 players broke par on the Valley only Wilton and Carroll could dip into the red on the Dunluce Links, posting one under 71s.
Esker Hills’ Alan Lowry, a younger brother of European Tour player Shane Lowry, shot a level par 72 to match Massereene’s Jonathan Connolly, Slieve Russell’s Seamus Cullen and Ballyclare’s Ally Purdy while Graeme McDowell’s brother Gary McDowell was tied 37th of the 150 players who player longer track after a 76.