Holywood's Rory McIlroy and Portmarnock veteran Adrian Morrow share the clubhouse lead in the Golfsure Irish Amateur Close Championship at the European Club.
McIlroy, the 17-year-old defending champion, fired a one under par 70 to match 53-year-old Morrow at the top of the clubhouse leaderboard in perfect conditions.
The European Club's length, deep rough and penal bunkers proved to be too much to handle for the majority of the 150-strong field with many scores in the 80s.
But McIlroy and Morrow were equal to the task as they both carded three birdies and two bogeys in the best of the early conditions.
McIlroy looked set to break Tiger Woods' course record of 67 when he birdied the 12th, 17th and 18th to turn in three under par.
Bogeys at the fourth and seventh ended that dream and he parred his way home to top the leaderboard alongside Morrow.
The former East and South of Ireland champion went to the turn in one over par after following a birdie at the 10th with bogeys at the 14th and 18th.
He birdied the sixth and eighth coming home for a his 70 as reigning East of Ireland champion Brendan McCarroll took a nine at the par five third en route to an 82.
“I’m happy with my score, to be honest," McIlroy said. “To shoot under par on this golf course anytime is a good score, so I am pretty pleased because the wind is getting up this afternoon and it is getting tougher.”
Donal O’Brien from Laytown and Bettystown and Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell, the runner up in last week’s East of Ireland at Baltray, were the next best on one over par 72.
Golfsure Irish Amateur Close Championship, The European Club (Par 71) Clubhouse scores
70 R McIlroy (Holywood), A Morrow (Portmarnock)
72 D O'Brien (L'town & B'town), J Caldwell (Clandeboye)
73 S Ward (Co Louth)
74 E O'Sullivan (The Island)
75 D Morgan (Mullingar), M Sinclair (Knock), N Gorey (Killeen), D Crowe (Dunmurry), A McCloy (Ballymena), G Bowden (Hermitage) 76 G Lawlor (Citywest), R Cannon (L'town & B'town), P O'Kane (Moyola Park)
77 R Leonard (Banbridge), M Mulryan (Athenry), D Houlihan (K Club), N Grant (Knock), A McAllister (Portmarnock), S Lowry (Esker Hills) 78 P Murray (Limerick), G O'Flaherty (Cork), C Doran (Banbridge), P Sheehan (Ballybunion), A McCormick (Scrabo), S Dwyer (Newlands), E
79 A O'Callaghan (Douglas), P O'Hanlon (Curragh), R McCarthy (The Island), H Boch (Ballybunion), S Grant (Birr)
80 G O'Connor (Malahide), S Power (West Waterford), C McNamara (Limerick), M Campbell (Stackstown)
81 K Kennedy (Co Tipperary), S Loftus (Ennis), S Crowe (Dunmurry), J McWilliams (Belvoir Park), D Finn (Mallow), N O'Connor (UCD/Elm Park), C McCarthy (St. Annes), N Turner (Muskerry), R Boal (Scrabo), J Mulready (Castle)
82 B McCarroll (Ballyliffin), N McGrane (Royal Dublin), P O'Keeffe (Douglas), C Hughes (Royal Portrush)
83 D Joyce (The Curragh), R Forsythe (Ballyclare), G McGrane (Royal Dublin), P McGrath (Dromoland)
84 J Waldron (Muskerry), B McSweeney (Woodbrook)
85 T O'Flynn (Fota Island), M Brett (Portmarnock)
86 K Crowley (Lee Valley)
88 M Redmond (Blainroe), J McGinn (L'town & B'town)
90 A McCully (Banbridge)
NR: M Reck (Lucan), C Clancy (Stackstown), A Boyle (Hollystown)
RTD: P Errity (Delgany), M Horan (Birr), G Mallon (North West), G Nugent (Kilkenny), S O'Donnell (Portarlington)