But the 32-year old Co Sligo stalwart, now playing out of Carton House following a move to Dublin for work reasons, does not dare to dream of a maiden championship win just yet as the Dollymount links once again took its share of victims.
As the wind switched in the afternoon and early morning squalls gave way to southerly gusts of more 30mph, McDermott was the only player in the elite, 120-strong field to break 70 on a day when just four players dipped under par.
“It was set up perfectly and we definitely got the best part of the day,” said bank official McDermott, who leads by a shot on three under from Scottish Amateur champion Alexander Culverwell. “It got very wet in the middle of the round but I got the job done”
Beaten in the first round of his beloved “West” after picking up a bug and losing 8 lbs, the Ballincar man produced one of his trademark grinding performances, holing out well for pars and picking up four birdies with his only bogey coming at the 14th, where he airmailed the green with his pitch.
“I didn’t hit the ball particularly well but holed my fair share of putts from eight to 10 feet and my short game was on,” said McDermott, who birdied the second, sixth, 12th and 15th, where he hit a nine iron stone dead.
While he’s won two Senior Cups and a Barton Shield with Co Sligo and had close calls in the West and the East of Ireland Championships, McDermott still has ambitions of winning an amateur “major” after improving his game with coaches Martin McTernan and Johnny Foster over the winter.
“Winning a championship would be the icing on the cake,” he said. “I still have ambitions to try and improve year on year and I am still enjoying it — but it’s only the first round.”
While officials reduced the course by 208 yards to 7,089 yards with the promise of more forward tees today, Royal Dublin still proved to be a formidable test.
Tom Gandy of the Isle of Man and Sem Westdijk of the Netherlands were the only others to break par, carding one under 71s to share third place.
West of Ireland champion Jack Hume of Naas and Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan are the best of the Irish, tied for fifth after level par 72s.
While Portmarnock’s Geoff Lenehan, Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell and Knock’s Colin Fairweather shot 73s to match 17-year old Lytham Trophy winner Thriston Lawrence of SA, Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy and Mourne’s Reeve Whitson both double bogeyed the 18th for 76s. Faithlegg’s Robin Dawson, the Irish Boys champion, made his only birdie at the par-five second and dropped just three shots from the eighth for a 74 that left him in a 10-man share of 16th with Cormac Sharvin and Rory McNamara.