Odd couple Rory McIlroy and Adrian Morrow survived the carnage to lead after the first qualifying round of the Golfsure Irish Amateur Close Championship at the European Club.
Pat Ruddy’s monster-sized Brittas Bay links proved to be too tough a test for the best amateurs in the country as nobody except the leaders broke or matched par with the average score a shocking 80.7.
Only 17-year-old defending champion McIlroy and 53-year-old Portmarnock veteran Morrow proved equal to the task as the carded one under par rounds of 70 in perfect conditions.
“It’s as tough a course as I have played, ever,” said Limerick’s Pat Murray, who double bogeyed the sixth and treble bogeyed the seventh on his way to a 78. “Bar a hurricane wind, it doesn’t get tougher than this.
“Miss a fairway and you are looking like losing a ball. Miss a green, the same. There is no let up at all the whole way through. It gets monotonous, almost. It tests your patience."
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, who 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 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, Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell and Royal Portrush's John Turner were the next best on one over par 72.
Golfsure Irish Amateur Close Championship, The European Club (par 71) 1st rd qualifying scores:
70 R McIlroy (Holywood), A Morrow (Portmarnock)
72 D O'Brien (L'town & B'town), J Turner (Royal Portrush), J Caldwell (Clandeboye)
73 F Rafferty (Dungannon), S Ward (Co Louth)
74 K Canty (Douglas), E O'Sullivan (The Island), N O'Briain (Royal Dublin)
75 D Morgan (Mullingar), A Pitcher (The Island), M Sinclair (Knock), N Gorey (Killeen), D Crowe (Dunmurry), A McCloy (Ballymena), G Bowden (Hermitage)
76 K Stack (Dungarvan/UCC), G Lawlor (Citywest), R Cannon (L'town & B'town), P O'Kane (Moyola Park), B O'Connor (Hermitage)
77 R Leonard (Banbridge), M Mulryan (Athenry), H Diamond (Holywood), R O'Connor (The Island), D Houlihan (K Club), D mcInerney (Lahinch), N Grant (Knock), A McAllister (Portmarnock), S Lowry (Esker Hills) 78 P Murray (Limerick), K Lewis (Skerries), P Connolly (Clontarf), G O'Flaherty (Cork), A McKinley (Shandon Park), C Doran (Banbridge), P Sheehan (Ballybunion), D Scully (Galway), C Curley (Newlands), A McCormick (Scrabo), S Dwyer (Newlands), E Power (Kilkenny), B Walton
79 W McCully (Donaghadee), A O'Callaghan (Douglas), P O'Hanlon (Curragh), R McCarthy (The Island), H Boch (Ballybunion), C McAleavey (Banbridge), S Grant (Birr)
80 K O'Neill (Strandhill), P Sheehy (Limerick), G O'Connor (Malahide), J Lyons (Galway), J Toner (Woodbrook), S Power (West Waterford), D Rawluk (The Islaand), G Flynn (Delgany), C Carvill
(Belvoir Park), C McNamara (Limerick), M Campbell (Stackstown) 81 K Kennedy (Co Tipperary), S Loftus (Ennis), R Williams (Baltinglass), J Hughes (Douglas), S Crowe (Dunmurry), J McWilliams
(Belvoir Park), D Finn (Mallow), N O'Connor (UCD/Elm Park), G Lynas (Shandon Park), C McCarthy (St. Annes), D Moran (The Island), S Moloney (Castletroy), N Turner (Muskerry), R Boal (Scrabo), A Glynn (Porters Park), A Darbey (Sutton), J Mulready (Castle), C Daly (Castletroy)
82 B McCarroll (Ballyliffin), D McNeill (Ballybofey & Stranorlar), N McGrane (Royal Dublin), J Fox (Portmarnock), E McCormack (Galway), P O'Keeffe (Douglas), C Hughes (Royal Portrush), D Coyne (Tuam), M Clifford (Lucan)
83 M Lavelle (Belmullet), D Joyce (The Curragh), R Forsythe (Ballyclare), J Hughes (Woodbrook), G McGrane (Royal Dublin), M Buggy (Castlecomer), D Keating (Dun Laoghaire), J Somers (L'town & B'town), T O'Neill (Rathsallagh), P McGrath (Dromoland)
84 D Ruddy (Thurles), A Pigott (Dunmurry), G McDermott (Co Sligo), J Waldron (Muskerry), T Cleary (East Clare), B McSweeney (Woodbrook), J Moore (L'town & B'town), D Lewis (Woodbrook), D Lernihan (Castle), J Curran (Elm Park)
85 T O'Flynn (Fota Island), G Carew (Edenderry), M Brett (Portmarnock), D Murray (Skerries), D Coughlan (Douglas), C Cassidy (Portmarnock), J McIntyre (City of Derry), S O'Flaherty (Hermitage) 86 D Coyle (Co Louth), E Lonergan (Kilcoole), S Heavey (Co Sligo), K Crowley (Lee Valley), L MacNamara (Woodbrook), D Byrne (Douglas), D Lally (Tuam), M King (Athenry)
87 A Condren (Greystones)
88 R Guilfoyle (Kilkenny), D Errity (Delgany), M Redmond (Blainroe), J McGinn (L'town & B'town)
89 M Rowe (Athlone), C Griffin (Curragh), D Daly (Muskerry)
90 A McCully (Banbridge)
93 M Hammond (Moyola Park)
NR M Reck (Lucan), C Clancy (Stackstown), A Boyle (Hollystown), A Dooley (Athlone), B Cashman (Belvoir Park), C O'Malley (Wesstport), R Maher (Nenagh)
DQ R McDaid (Co Sligo)
RTD P Errity (Delgany), M Horan (Birr), G Mallon (North West), G Nugent (Kilkenny), S O'Donnell (Portarlington)