Daniel Brown seized the initiative on the first day of the Amateur Championship with a four-under-par round of 66 on the Dunluce links at Royal Portrush which gave him a one-shot lead over Frenchman Mathieu Fenasse.
Four players finished with three-under-par scores of 68 at Portstewart; Liam Johnston from Dumfries and County, Ryan Evans from Wellingborough, Denmark’s Victor Fasmer Henum and France’s Kenny Subregis.
At Royal Portrush England's Ben Wheeler, Sweden's Hannes Ronneblad and Andrew Schomewille from Australia scored 68 for two-under-par rounds.
Sunshine and a fresh sea breeze greeted the competitors for round one of the 119th Amateur Championship played at Royal Portrush and Portstewart golf clubs.
A field of 288 players, representing 28 different countries, will play a qualifying round of stroke play over each course before the leading 64 and ties will take part in the match play stages at Royal Portrush. The 36-hole final will be played on Saturday.
Brown, who represented the victorious England team in the 2012 Boys Home Internationals and is a former Yorkshire Amateur champion, birdied three of his opening five holes at Royal Portrush before dropping shots on the 6th and 7th. A further shot slipped on the 10th but four birdies on the back nine were enough to give him the round one lead.
“I got off to a good start and holed a nice putt at the third,” said the 19-year-old. “The pin was tucked away at the back left and I holed from about 25ft. That was a nerve settler. My game plan was to keep it in play and find the fairways as I knew the rough was penal and it is tight in places. I did that pretty well today.
“I had a bit of a wobble in the middle of the round but came back strongly and had a really good back nine. I won’t change my game plan for tomorrow but it’s nice to have a bit of a cushion here in case you have a bad spell.”
Dumfries and County’s Liam Johnston started his round at Portstewart with two birdies, holing a 45 foot putt on the second green to get his first qualifying round well underway. The 21-year-old went onto card a further three birdies on the 10th, 12th and 14th to return a three-under-par 67.
“I started really well and played steadily. I putted well all day which helped my confidence. My goal at the start of the week is to get into the top 64. I got a new coach two weeks ago which has helped boost my confidence. I will try and just play the same tomorrow and keep hitting greens.”
Six players scored two-under-par rounds of 69 at Portstewart including the 2014 Welsh Amateur Open Stroke play Champion Toby Tree (Worthing) and France’s Paul Barjon who will be aiming to improve on his quarter-final finish at Royal Cinque Ports last year. At Royal Portrush three players finished on the same total.
Ireland’s Paul Dunne carded a one-under-par 70 at Portstewart while Cormac Sharvin was level-par after a 70 at Royal Portrush.
Scots Grant Forrest, who won the St Andrews Links Trophy earlier this month, and the Boys Amateur champion Ewen Ferguson were both on two-over-par. The second stroke play round gets underway at 7am tomorrow.
Live scoring is available at Championships.randa.org