Peter Kerr leads the qualifiers in Amateur Close at breezy Galway

Mikey Burke had the round of the day - a three-under 67 that left him tied for 13th

Experience is everything in championship golf and chemistry student Peter Kerr is hoping he can come up with the elixir of success and claim his first amateur major after leading the qualifiers in the AIG Amateur Close at breezy Galway.

The 19-year old has all the hallmarks of a Close winner having reached the semi-finals last year, where it took a brilliant birdie by eventual champion Alex Gleeson to send him home.

Having just finished his first year at St Andrews University in Scotland, Kerr has no excuses when to comes to mixing golf and academics and he looks like a player who will be tough to beat after he carded a second successive 69 to win the Silver Medal on a countback from Co Sligo's David Brady.

The Rosses Point man followed his opening 67 with a 71 to finish alongside Kerr on two under par, one stroke clear of Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty, who was Ireland’s leading points scorer on his debut in Home Internationals last week.

“Last year’s Close was a great experience for me,” Kerr said of his experience at Ballyliffin. “It was the first time that I had done well in one of the big men’s championships.

“It was a surprise to me because I didn’t have a lot of form going into it. I putted very well in stroke play and my game got better and better as the week went on.

“Hopefully I can do the same tomorrow.

“The main thing I learned last year was that I didn’t have to play my A game to get that far.

“It showed me also the importance of the short game, I putted really well a lot last year and it just showed me that I didn’t have to hit every fairway and every green to get that far.”

Exactly 64 players qualified for Thursday's first round of matchplay combat on eight over par 148 with East of Ireland champion Reece Black (149) and two-time Irish Boys champion Mark Power (152).

While Galway's Mikey Burke had the round of the day - a three-under 67 that left him tied for 13th - in-form Rafferty must be highly fancied to go far.

The 24-year old has moved to a new level this year and after winning five points out of six on the Irish team that captured its fourth successive Home Internationals, he’s busting with confidence.

After a 68 left him alone in third place on one-under, Rafferty said: “Last week gave me that extra little bit of belief too, getting the big experience with the lads and realising that I’m not that far away from everybody so hopefully I can keep going this week and get the win.”