Eight months ago, four Irishmen, Paul Dunne, Gavin Moynihan, Gary Hurley and Jack Hume were teammates on the Britain and Ireland side that beat the US in the Walker Cup at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
Their golfing pathways have diverged in the interim but yesterday were reunited at the K Club, albeit driven by individual agendas. Only Hume remains in the amateur ranks but for the other three, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, offers a potentially lucrative stipend for the fledgling professionals.
Dunne’s excellent two under, 70, forged in the strong winds of the afternoon, was all the more laudable considering that seven days ago, he lay in a hospital bed, attached to a drip.
The 23-year-old was discharged from hospital last Friday, two nights after being admitted with stomach issues, and demonstrating the resilience of youth, immediately set about preparing for the Irish Open.
He explained: “I did some chipping in Greystones on Friday night. I played here [K Club] on Saturday and Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I felt good [out there], a bit tired during the week but every day I have felt a bit better.
“I felt good this morning, got a really good night’s sleep. I’ve been eating well the last couple of days so my energy levels are good. When the weather is a bit rough it is mentally tiring but no more so than I would normally be. My body feels fine.
“I let a better round get away from me,” a reference to the fact that he was three under after 10 holes but bogeys on the 16th – his ball finished in a depression on the green and jumped left on contact causing him to miss a short putt - and 17th were partially offset by a birdie on the last hole. “I played really well. I’d have taken two under at the start of the day especially the way the wind was blowing,” he added.
Moynihan’s ability to scramble when occasionally out of position helped him to a level par, 72. He too found the afternoon weather conditions, capricious.
“It was tough, difficult to gauge the wind. Today you could have really blown yourself out of it. I hit the ball well and rolled it nicely on the green so I’m pretty happy.
“Level par out there feels like you have shot two or three under. I hit a good few greens and scrambled when I had to; the rough around the greens was tough and I got a few [difficult] lies on the way in. I’m in the top half [of the field] so it is about keeping going [and making the cut].”
Hurley, coming off a fourth place finish on the Challenge Tour in Italy last week, signed for a 73, that was far from orthodox, containing five bogeys and four birdies.
He was the last player to receive an invite to the Irish Open, appraised of his good fortune last Monday on Twitter initially.
He too played when the wind was at its zenith and will feel that he can capitalise on what promises to be the more advantageous side of the draw in terms of the weather this morning.
Hume, who recorded a couple of double bogeys, en route to a five over par, 77, not only had to contend with the same conditions his former teammates endured during their rounds but having started slightly earlier conducted much of his warm-up in the lashing rain.