Whitson and McNamara swoop late
Internationals Reeve Whitson and Rory McNamara, along with Gary McDermott, swooped late in the day to grab a share of the lead after the first qualifying round for the North of Ireland Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush.
The trio fired scores of three-under-par 67 in difficult conditions over the Valley course to be one stroke ahead of Sean Flanagan and Aaron Grant.
Whitson from Mourne had a bogey on the 17th to deny him the chance of taking the outright lead while Headfort's McNamara and McDermott each collected three birdies on the inward half.
Grant had earlier swept to the top of the leaderboard as he set about adding this crown to the stroke-play version he won last month. The Dundalk man fired a two-under-par 68 over the Valley course with level halves of 34.
Cork's Conor Coyne was also one of the few players to master the conditions with his one-under-par 69. The one-handicap Youghal man is one stroke ahead of Dubliner Daniel Holland (22) who suffered just one hiccup, making a complete mess of the eighth and finishing with a triple-bogey seven. Royal Dublin's Jeff Hopkins also had a triple bogey there in his 73.
On the Dunluce course Garry McGrotty of nearby Portstewart and Mark Timmins from Mount Wolseley with scores of 75 were lowest scorers until Andrew Clegg of Donaghadee came in with a 73.