England’s Joseph Pagdin leads the field after the first day of the Boys Amateur Championship at Royal Portstewart and Portstewart.
The 16-year-old carded a fantastic five-under-par 67 at the championship’s second course on Tuesday.
With the best scores coming at Portstewart, Australia’s Jose De Souza sits in second place on four-under-par. A handful of others are on three under, including 14-year-old Scot Gregor Graham and England International Robin Williams, who are tied for third heading into the second day of stroke play qualifying.
Pagdin, who was part of the England team that claimed the Boys Home Internationals at Royal Dornoch last week, produced a bogey-free round with birdies at the 8th, 9th, 13th, 14th and 16th holes.
“I was just looking for two solid rounds to get to the match play,” said Pagdin. “I just went out with an open mind. I love this course. I started off decent – I just couldn’t make a putt. I finally got one on 8 and after that I clicked.
“You don’t expect to shoot five under on a course like this. I focused on one shot at a time with each hole, just ticking away.”
Links practice key for Pagdin
Pagdin, who moved to America with his family aged three, says he relishes links golf.
“I come over every summer to play,” he added. “This year I played the European Amateur and The Amateur Championship and the Home Internationals last week, so I’ve played quite a lot of links and I have in the past.
“It’s my favourite type of golf because anything can happen – it’s not target golf. So, every time I get the opportunity to play I do.”
Despite a double-bogey at the 11th hole, De Souza, from Perth in Western Australia, recorded a fine 68 thanks to a blistering comeback which featured four birdies through the final six holes.
“It was pretty exciting,” said the 18-year-old. “I was a bit up and down through the middle because I was playing pretty solid. I got to 11 and had a hiccup with the double bogey. It could have gone two ways from there, but I played the two par-fives pretty well. And then happy days on the last few holes!”
With no players breaking par at Royal Portrush, the best of the pack was Ireland’s Mark Power, who carded a steady 71 at the course set to host The 148th Open Championship next year.