by Ronan MacNamara
Thomas O'Connor by Golffile
Thomas O’Connor lit up the South of Ireland Amateur Open as he shot a blistering round of 63 to top the leaderboard on nine-under-par on a day of low scoring in Lahinch.
The Athlone Golf Club player’s round was bookended by opening and closing birdies. But it was the back nine where he blitzed the field, coming home in just 30 strokes.
O’Connor burst out of the traps with three birdies in a row to set the tone for the day as he turned in three-under 33 before a stunning display on the back nine saw him card four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 12th.
The 2018 Ulster Mid-Amateur Champion was in the third last group out as he looked to hunt down early clubhouse leaders Max Kennedy of Royal Dublin and Naas man David Marshall Jr both of whom shot morning 66s. Elm Park’s Robert Galligan joined them this afternoon after a 66 of his own.
2020 Irish Boys Champion, Sam Murphy is two shots in arears after he carded eight birdies on his way to a seven-under 65 which looked like it would lead for a period.
The top-64 make it through to the match play stages after round two and the cut looks likely to be low.
Sean Desmond got his long-awaited defence off to a nightmarish start with a three-over 75 today.
The Monkstown man reached the turn in level par before three consecutive dropped shots put him up against it.
A birdie stopped the bleeding on 13 before the stumbled to the finish with a bogey on 18.
The par-5s were Desmond’s downfall as he ranked second worst in scoring average with 5.75. taking advantage of the par-5s is critical given that three of the four easiest holes in Lahinch are par-5s.
Hugh Foley will be under pressure tomorrow afternoon to try and secure his place in the next round after the 2020 AIG Irish Amateur Close champion opened with a disappointing level par 72, undoing much of his promising early work.
The Royal Dublin player seemed in ominous form when he birdied three of his first four holes to quickly move to three-under.
However, momentum stalled with dropped shots on 10 and the par-5 12th before the 2019 leading qualifier limped into the clubhouse with a bogey six on 18.
The Irish international, who competed at the European Team Championships in Spain will need a low round tomorrow if he is to break into the top-64 at the end of day two.
Robert Moran and Matthew McClean are best of the Irish Internationals on five-under-par with Carton House man Marc Boucher two strokes further back.