England's Sean Towndrow might have missed a four foot birdie chance at the last for the outright lead in the Flogas Irish Amateur Open but after overcoming lymphatic cancer the 26-year-old had every reason to be philosophical about a minor blip at Royal County Down.
The towering England international, a semi-finalist in the British Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush three years ago, was more than pleased to add a one under 70 to his opening 69 for a share of top spot with South Africa’s Kyle McClatchie on three-under par.
“It’s good, it’s nice, it’s been a while since I’ve been up there,” said Towndrow, who had three birdies and two bogeys on a sometimes damp but windless day.
“I had last year off with lymphatic cancer. Hopefully, I’m all clear though I’m still having a few tests. It’s about nine months since I finished treatment so I just got back into golf in early February.
“It just came out of nowhere. I was just feeling a bit tired towards the end of 2015 and then I got diagnosed in early 2016.
“I had a lot of tiredness. I had a massive pain in my chest because I had a tumour in the front of my chest - I struggled to breathe and at the time struggled to walk further than 10 yards.
“About six weeks later they diagnosed me. Golf has a different meaning now. I’m just trying to get my fitness back, the more rounds I can play the better.”
McClatchie added a level par 71 to his opening 68 to set the target at three under before being joined by Towndrow, and they finished the day one stroke clear of Scotland's Christopher MacLean (67), Belvoir Park's Marc Norton (68) and Douglas' Peter O'Keeffe (70) on three-under.
A former Challenge Tour professional, 35-year old O’Keeffe holed a pair of 25 footers for birdie on the last two greens for second successive 70 to share third with reigning Leinster Youths champion Norton, who shot a 68 that included a 124-yard hole out for a birdie at the ninth.
Castle's Alex Gleeson made just one bogey in an impressive 69 to share sixth on one-under par with Scotland's George Bloor (70) and Kinsale's John Murphy, who raced around in five under par 66 in the first group of the day before his mother drove him back to Maynooth University to sit an economics exam in the afternoon.
"I requested the first tee-time today because I've an exam at 3.30pm so it's not ideal but some things have to be done," said the Paddy Harrington Scholarship student after making an eagle and six birdies.
The reigning Munster Boys champion turned in 33 with birdies at the first, fifth and eighth and a lone bogey at the third.
But while he dropped another shot at the 11th, he birdied the 12th and 13th, then followed a bogey at the tough 15th with a chip-in eagle two at the driveable 16th and a birdie at the 17th.