Paul Coughlan leads Irish Amateur Close after first qualifying round
Top 64 after Wednesday’s second qualifying round make the matchplay on Thursday
Only 10 players broke par in the first qualifying round at the Galway Golf Club on Tuesday. Photograph: Inpho
It might measure “just” 6,532 yards from the back stakes but Galway Golf Club proved more than a match for the best in the land as just 10 players broke par in the first qualifying round of the AIG Irish Amateur Close.
“You’re on a knife-edge on every hole,” said West of Ireland champion Barry Anderson after an adventurous, one-over 71. “Once you get your tee shot away, it’s very scoreable. But it’s tight off the tee.
“Anything under par is always good around Galway. It’s a par 70, there are only two par fives and they’re not gimme birdies by any means.”
The top 64 after Wednesday’s second qualifying round make the matchplay on Thursday and a six-over par total might be good enough after the 132-strong field averaged 73.99 in a fresh southerly breeze.
Castleknock’s Paul Coughlan leads by a stroke from Co Sligo’s David Brady and Co Cavan’s Shane McDermott after overcoming a bout of suspected food-poisoning to card a four under par 66.
The 25-year old was one over par after just two holes but he made five birdies after that on a day when some of the big guns struggled.
“It’s my lowest round of the year,” said Coughlan, who credited a putting lesson with Castleknock professional Ryan Donagher for his impressive form on Galway’s pristine greens.
“He moved the ball back in my stance and I only had 27 putts today. The greens are slower than they look but they are pure. Finding the fairway is key around here.”
Starting at the 10th, Coughlan followed a bogey at the 11th with a birdie at the 16th to be out in level par before coming home in 31 thanks to birdies at the third, fifth, seventh and eighth.
Just four members of the Irish team that won the Home Internationals for the fourth year running last week are in action and they enjoyed mixed fortunes.
Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty shot a 71, Tramore’s Robin Dawson a three-over 73 and defending champion Alex Gleeson a 75 as Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell overcame a quadruple bogey eight at his seventh hole (the 16ah) and finished eagle-birdie-birdie for a level par 70.
“It was a bad eight,” Campbell said of his bunker trouble at the 16ah. “There’s never a good eight but that was definitely a bad eight.”
He made amends with his finish, rolling in a 35 footer for an eagle at the seventh before picking up two more shots at the eighth and ninth.
“The eagle gave me a bit of breathing space playing the last couple of holes,” Campbell said. “I didn’t feel comfortable out there at all today - didn’t feel comfortable over the ball - but I got it around and that was the main thing.”
Gleeson had three double bogey sixes in a 75 that leaves him tied for 81st with West of Ireland champion James Sauger and outside the top 64.
“It was a very frustrating round,” said Gleeson, who like many players, failed to get a practice round after heavy rain closed the course on Monday.
“I was struggling off the tee and on the greens, so it wasn’t ideal.
“You can see most of the trouble here. It’s more just getting familiar with where to miss it around the greens.
“I’all just look to play solidly tomorrow and give myself the best chance of qualifying.”
AIG Irish Close Championship, Galway Golf Club (Par 70) First round:
66 P Coughlan (Castleknock)
67 D Brady (Co. Sligo); S Mc Dermott (Co. Cavan)
68 D Kitt (Athenry)
69 T Ford (County Sligo Golf Club); R Knightly (The Royal Dublin); J McCarthy (Stackstown); A Hill (Athenry); P Kerr (Royal Portrush); T Plunkett (Crover House)
70 J Walsh (Castle); M Shiel (Galway Bay); M Grehan (Tullamore); C Feeney (Co. Sligo); J Lyons (Galway); T Cleary (Woodstock); S Cullen (Slieve Russell); W Small (Tandragee); C Campbell (Warrenpoint)
71 B Anderson (The Royal Dublin); R McKinstry (Cairndhu); L Nolan (Galway); M O’Farrell (Galway); N Hearns (Mountrath); S Flanagan (Co. Sligo); T Nolan (Galway); R Cannon (Balbriggan); J Tuohy (Galway Bay); E Farrell (Ardee); C Rafferty (Dundalk); J Knipe (Royal Portrush); L Power (Galway); A McDaid (Palmerstown Stud); J Fox (Portmarnock)
72 C Hughes (Galway); J McVicker (Knock); J Temple (Portmarnock); D Coyle (Portmarnock); C Raymond (Newlands); D Foy (Laytown & Bettystown); J Brady (Rosslare); J Yates (Naas); J Fletcher (Warrenpoint); B Timlin (Galway); M Ryan (New Ross); R Black (Hilton Templepatrick); M Norton (Belvoir Park); A Ryan (Thurles); B Shally (Dromoland); H Foley (The Royal Dublin); R Moran (Castle); L Grehan (Mullingar); R O’Connor (Co. Sligo); W Russell (Clandeboye); T O’Connor (Athlone)
73 E Murphy (Dundalk); H Gillivan (Westport); C Butler (Kinsale); J Maginn (Mourne); J Hood (Galgorm Castle); C Ryan (Dun Laoghaire); R Pierse (Grange); J Doherty (Ballina); P Brennan (Belvoir Park); S Healy (The Royal Dublin); R Dawson (Tramore); O Crooks (Bushfoot); S Brady (Galway); R Mullarney (Galway); T McLarnon (Massereene)
74 C Woodroofe (Dun Laoghaire); C Martin (Kilkenny); J Whelan (Newlands); J Blake (The Island); K McCarron (North West); C Denvir (Elm Park); A Hickey (Ballyhaunis); D Glynn (Galway Bay); G Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick); E Griffin (Waterford)
75 R Brazill (Naas); M McKinstry (Cairndhu); A Fahy (Dun Laoghaire); C Glennon (Glasson); T Smyth (Castle); S Kenneally (Kinsale); G Mann (Tullamore); T Collins (Dun Laoghaire); M Burke (Galway); A Gleeson (Castle); E Smith (Laytown & Bettystown); A Comerford (Galway); J Sugrue (Mallow); E McCormack (Galway Bay); R O’Doherty (Enniscrone)
76 K Lynch (Skibbereen); M McKenna (Dun Laoghaire); G Smyth (Clonmel); S McGlynn (Portmarnock); M Healy (Kinsale); C Nolan (Galway); J Mc Donnell (Forrest Little)
77 A Gaynor (Co. Sligo); J Quinn (The Island); D McAleenon (Edenmore); T Probst (Strandhill); R Dutton (Tandragee); J McKenna (St Patricks); T Mulligan (Laytown & Bettystown)
78 R Tighe (Elm Park); A Wilson (Portmarnock); A Mulholland (Castlerock); P Carey (Nenagh); E Collins (Laytown & Bettystown); S Desmond (Monkstown); D Reddan Jnr (Nenagh); J Mc Quaid (Rossmore)
79 R Browne (Castle); D O’Connor (Fota Island); M Murphy (Clandeboye )
80 M Power (Kilkenny); A Moore (Adare Manor); D Smith (Castle)
81 C Waters (Lahinch); S Doyle (Athlone); L O’Neill (Connemara)
82 C Kelly (Fort Lauderdale)
83 C Henry (Strandhill); C Dowling (Mallow)
84 N Carroll (Athlone); J Hickey (Cork)
NR J Foley (Letterkenny)