YORKSHIRE champion Alex Fitzpatrick (Hallamshire) sat just one shot off the lead after shooting three-under-par 68 in the first round of the Irish Amateur Open Championship at Royal County Down.
Keeping him company in the top echelons was Malton & Norton’s David Hague, one shot further back, while Bailey Gill (Lindrick) and Charlie Thornton, of Fulford, were tied 12th on 70.
Wath’s Nick Poppleton and Howley Hall’s Ben Hutchinson both shot 73 as Ireland’s Robin Dawson (Tramore) led with a 65.
Fitzpatrick began with a birdie, but gave the shot back at the sixth to be out in level par.
He then got off to a dazzling start on the inward half playing holes 10, 11 and 12 in four under with two birdies and an eagle at the 525-yard 12th. A bogey at 16 led to his three under total.
Hague started his 69 with 10 consecutive pars before birdieing 11. He was back level after a bogey at 16 before closing with birdies at both 17 and 18.
Gill – who along with Hague was part of the England team that beat France last weekend – and former England Boys’ Order of Merit winner Thornton both returned 70s.
Gill began with a birdie and had another at six, but bogeyed the fourth and eighth. Nine pars followed in succession before he closed the way he had opened with a birdie.
Thornton was two under through three holes, but went to one over after three consecutive bogeys from the fifth.
He was back on an even keel after birdieing the eighth and two more birdies and a bogey would follow on the inward half.
Poppleton, an English amateur semi-finalist last year and winner last weekend of the Danny Willett Salver at Lindrick, eagled the 539-yard first, but gave the shots back rapidly with a double bogey at the third.
He also bogeyed seven, and had a level back nine with the aid of two birdies.
Hutchinson had a birdie-bogey beginning and two birdies and four bogeys on the next 16.