O'Hanlon laments errors after early East blitz
Defending champion Paul O'Hanlon confessed that mental errors cost him dear as he let a sensational start slip away and opened with a one-under 71 in the East of Ireland Amateur Open at County Louth.
With Portmarnock's Jack Pierse, Esker Hills' Alan Lowry, Laytown and Bettystown's David Foy and Dún Laoghaire's Colin Woodroofe setting the clubhouse target with three-under 69s in the morning wave, former professional O'Hanlon (32) was keen to get off to a fast start.
And the Carton House man got it too, reeling off four successive birdies from the first before getting to five-under par with another at the par-five sixth.
Facing with an eight-footer to go six-under par at the short seventh, he lipped out and was never the same after that, dropping a shot at the eighth after a bunkered tee shot and three more on the homeward nine at the 10th, 13th and 16th.
"It was a dream start," said the Kildare native, who ended the day tied for ninth behind the four co-leaders, who have a one-stroke lead over Cork's John Hickey, Carton House's Des Morgan, Laytown and Bettystown's Cian Geraghty and Castle's Daniel Holland.
"I'm five-under after six and thinking, 'What's going on here?' But I made two or three mental errors that were a bit unlike me after that and my putter went a little cold," he said. "It could have been a great day but I'll take it. I just love this place and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow."
Co-leader Pierse (26) also let a fast start slip away, falling back to level-par after 11 having started birdie-eagle-par-birdie to be four-under after four holes.
But he birdied the 14th, 16th and 18th and having lost in the final of the West of Ireland to Barry Anderson, he's hoping now to give himself another shot at glory at a pristine Baltray.