The 21-year-old carded a five-under-par 66, which included five birdies, to finish one stroke ahead of England international Ben Stow, who bogeyed nine and 18 to leave Hurley out on his own at the head of affairs.
Finland’s Lauri Ruuska is also tied for second after his four-under-par 67 despite, after looking like snatching the overnight lead following a late charge, bogeying the last two.
Palmer Cup player Hurley has been in fine fettle in recent months, finishing joint fifth in the English Open stroke-play championship for the Brabazon Trophy in June — won by Stow — and was also the only amateur to make the cut at the Irish Open.
Hurley, a semi-finalist in the West of Ireland Championship, is bidding to become the first Irish player to lift the crown since Rory McIlroy in 2006.
Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy ended the first day tied for 10th after shooting a one-under-par 70. His round consisted of level halves of 35 with four birdies, one bogey, one double bogey and 12 pars.
Walker Cup star Gavin Moynihan, from The Island club, endured a tough first round of 77, 11 shots back. He struggled to recover after a start that included two double bogeys and two bogeys on the first four holes.
It was also a tough day for Portmarnock’s Mullinger Scratch Trophy winner Geoff Lenehan.
The 26-year-old Dubliner bogeyed five of the first nine holes and also triple-bogeyed the 424-yard fourth hole and, despite a couple of birdies on the back nine, ended on eight-over-par 79.
Richard Bridges (Stackstown) and Jack Hume are tied for 20th after both carded one-over rounds of 72, with Cormac Sharvin of Arglass a further stroke back after his round of 73.
In other action, Calcot Park’s George Wilson leads the Irish charge at the British Senior Amateur Championships in Ganton, Yorkshire.
His opening round 72 means he is tied for sixth and one over par, two shots off the current leader Anthony McLure, after a day that saw around half the field unable to complete their rounds due thunder and lightning.
Meanwhile, three-time Irish Senior Amateur Close champion Maurice Kelly (Naas) struggled to 79 — a round that included a double bogey, six bogeys and 11 pars — to finish eight over par.
It was a similar story for Tramore’s John Mitchell — fourth at this event last year — who also carded a round of 79. A triple bogey on the 17th rounded off a round that included just one birdie.
Adrian Morrow of Portmarnock is six shots back after his first round 76.