Scotland’s Graeme Robertson carded an opening round 69 to lead outright on day one of the Irish Amateur Open Championship at Royal Dublin Golf Club.
In blustery conditions, the 26 year old was three under par after four holes after an eagle three on the par five second, and a birdie two at the fourth. But bogies at holes six and seven followed before a birdie at the ninth saw the Scot turn for home two under par.
A bogey at the 11th hole was followed by the shot of the day, a five iron into the wind at the 160 yard par three 12th hole found the green and as Robertson turned away the ball ambled its way towards the hole and found the bottom of the cup for an ace.
It was Robertson’s first ever hole in one and it took him back to three under par. A birdie at the long par four 17th took him to four under par, but the round was tainted slightly by a bogey at the last and he signed for a three under par round of 69.
Ulsterman Aaron Kearney of Castlerock is well placed after his first round of 70 to leave him one stroke adrift. A strong start saw Kearney birdie the first two holes before dropping shots at the third and fifth to bring him back to level par. They would be the only two blemishes on his card, as he played the next 13 holes in two-under par.
“My putting was great today and I was happy to hold it together.”
With the GUI Championship Committee shortening the course by 419 yards due to the wind, Kearney was appreciative of the move. “Conditions were pretty brutal when I teed off this morning but fortunately the tees are up a lot which makes it a lot easier, it’s not so much of a grind and you have a chance to play a little bit of golf”.
“My golf’s been up and down so far this year. I’ve tried to play as many tournaments as possible, and I’ve been making cuts in most events and I felt after playing in the Munster Stroke Play last week at Cork that my game wasn’t far away and I just turned up today and wanted to just go out to play golf and enjoy it.”
Former South of Ireland champion Robbie Cannon from Balbriggan missed a six-footer on the last green for birdie which would have given him a share of the lead, but the former Irish international will have to be content with a share of second place, one behind Robertson.
Knock’s Nicky Grant is one shot further back on 71, alongside Lytham Trophy runner-up Jack Hume from Rathsallagh and former Irish Close Champion Pat Murray of Limerick.
On a day when just ten players broke par, there is a lot of work to be done for some of the pre-event favourites, including Reeve Whitson from Mourne. The Spanish Amateur Open champion was two-under par after six, but signed for an 8 over round of 80 after finishing double bogey – quadruple bogey.
Defending champion Gavin Moynihan from The Island shot a four-over par round of 76 while also on that mark is world number 23 Nathan Kimsey of England.
40 players and ties make the cut after Saturday’s round for the 36 hole final day on Sunday.