Portstewart's Paul Cutler and Portmarnock’s James Fox fired three-under-par 69s to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the East of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at fast-running Baltray.
Just two weeks after Shane Lowry blasted a sensational 62 and Graeme McDowell an incredible course record 61 in the Irish Open, the links gave little away as a stiff east breeze and firm conditions allowed just six players in the 156-man field to break par.
Fox had six birdies and three bogeys in a solid morning round before 20-year old Walker Cup panelist Cutler birdied the eighth and then holed a 100-yard lob wedge for an eagle two at the ninth before finishing with nine straight pars.
Belvoir Park interprovincial Andrew Morris sits alone in second place after a fine 70 with Baltray’s Nigel Beirth, former North and South of Ireland winner Darren Crowe and Mullingar’s Desmond Morgan a shot further back after one-under-par 71s.
Twice a runner up in the East, Beirth holed a four-iron for a hole in one at the 173-yard fifth but there was little luck for championship favourite Niall Kearney, who was one-under par through 11 holes but dropped three shots over the last six for a disappointing, two-over-par 74.
The leading 51 players after Sunday's second round will contest the final 36 holes on Monday.
East of Ireland Amateur Open, Co Louth (Par 72)
69 J Fox (Portmarnock), P Cutler (Portstewart)
70 A Morris (Belvoir Park)
71 D Morgan (Mullingar), N Beirth (Co. Louth), D Crowe (Dunmurry)
72 N Grant (Knock), J Hopkins (Skerries), D O'Donovan (Muskerry), L Lennox (Moyola Park), M Brett (Portmarnock), J Monaghan (The Island)
73 A McCormick (Scrabo), S Healy (Claremorris), G McGrane (The Royal Dublin), C Curley (Newlands), G Bohill (Co. Louth), S Crowe (Dunmurry), D Reilly (Westmanstown), D Carroll (Grange), G Kelly (Co.
Louth), F Rafferty (Dungannon), R Leonard (Banbridge), C Drumm
74 M McAlpin (Royal Portrush), S Prendergast (The Royal Dublin), K Egan (Curragh), S Power (West Waterford), C Doran (Banbridge), C Selfridge (Moyola Park), S Loftus (Lahinch), S Morrison (City of Derry), K Condren (Greystones), M Poucher (Limerick), S McConnell (Ballyclare), B Cashman (Belvoir Park), N Kearney (The Royal Dublin), E Arthurs (Forrest Little), R McConnell (Belvoir Park), K Canty (Douglas), C O'Malley (Westport), R McNamara (Headfort)
75 T O'Flynn (Fota Island), A Dunbar (Rathmore), H Diamond (Belvoir Park), N Goulding (Portmarnock), C Carvill (Belvoir Park), E McAnoy (Knock), K Bornemann (Douglas), C Hughes (Royal Portrush), A O'Callaghan (Douglas), D Coyne (Tuam), P Murray (Limerick), D Ruddy (Thurles), J Carvill (Warrenpoint), G Boyd (Donaghadee), R Cannon (Laytown & Bettystown), E O'Connor (Ballybunion)
76 R Whitson (Mourne), I Brennan (Greenore), S Barry (Lee Valley), K Stack (Dungarvan), D Lernihan (Castle), P Dunne (Greystones), B Walton (The Island), D Beattie (Whitehead), N O'Connor (Elm Park), D Coyle (Co. Louth), K McDonagh (Athlone), D Finn (Mallow), J Mulready (Castle)
77 N Gorey (Lee Valley), S Doherty (Malone), J Timony (Headfort), D Leathem (Lisburn), A Smith (The Island), C O'Connor (Athlone), L Costello (Hollystown), C Brown (Royal Portrush), T Fay (Rush), C Boggan (Co. Meath), G Carew (Edenderry), S Dwyer (Newlands), L Brady (The Royal Dublin), S Kelly (Lurgan), D Lally (Tuam), G McDermott (Co.
Sligo), A Hogan (Newlands), R Durnin (Laytown & Bettystown), J Hughes (Douglas), G O'Flaherty (Cork)
78 A Duffy (Royal Tara), M Hammond (Moyola Park), M Ryan (Grange), M Sinclair (Knock), S Smyth (Co. Louth), B Daly (Edmondstown), K Crowley (Lee Valley), G McGee (Malone), G Dunne (Seapoint), D McInerney (Lahinch), P McGrath (Dromoland), D Sutton (Lurgan), R Bridges (Stackstown), C McAleavey (Banbridge), R White (Dundalk), M Durcan (Co. Sligo), J McGinn (Laytown & Bettystown), T O'Connor (Athlone)
79 G Lawlor (Newbridge), B Campbell (Malone), A Dowling (Hermitage), J Murray (Mourne), D Vaughan (Ardglass), G Hamill (Ardglass), D Hogan (Killeen), R McCarthy (The Island)
80 T McGowan (Strandhill), J Dillon (Headfort), R Weldon (Luttrellstown Castle), D McCusker (Moyola Park), P Duff (Laytown & Bettystown), E O'Sullivan (The Island), C Martin (Kilkenny), E Smith (Ardee), A McGrath (Greenore)
81 C Molloy (Ardee), J Turner (Royal Portrush), C Campbell (Warrenpoint), R McDowell (Royal Belfast), K Connolly (Portarlington), A Harty (West Waterford), J Owens (Bangor), C Bowe (Tramore), E Maguire (Seapoint), J McCarthy (Forrest Little)
82 D Clarke (Knightsbrook), C Abernethy (Dun Laoghaire), D Kelleher (Portmarnock), L Reilly (Galgorm Castle)
83 J Stevenson (Royal Portrush), D Simpson (Malone)
84 J Gourley (Holywood), S Barry (Laytown & Bettystown), A Brogan (Forrest Little), R Branigan (Co. Louth)
85 M Buggy (Castlecomer), A McCloy (Ballymena)
87 D Glynn (Galway)
93 R Astrand (Kristianstads)
97 A Kadic (Germany)
DQ T Flanagan (New Forest), S Webster (Castle), R Walsh (Kilkenny)
RT M Turley (Elm Park), E McCormack (Galway)
WD P Reavey (Warrenpoint)