Monday 20 November 2017

McDermott staying focused after fast start

Brian Keogh

Gary McDermott hardly dares to dream of a maiden championship victory despite battling his way to a super 69 and the first-round lead in the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin.

The Co Sligo man (32), now playing out of Carton House, was the only player in the elite, 120-strong field to break 70 on a day when just four players dipped under par and the average score was exactly 78.

Many struggled against the strong breeze coming home with The Island's Kevin Le Blanc (16) racing to the turn in a wind-assisted 32 before coming home in 42 for a 74 that was good enough for a share of 16th.

"It was set up perfectly and we definitely got the best part of the day," said bank official McDermott, who leads by a shot from Scottish Amateur champion Alexander Culverwell (26). "It got very wet in the middle of the round but I got the job done."

Beaten in the first round of his beloved West after picking up a bug and losing eight pounds, the Ballincar man holed out well for pars and picked up four birdies with his only bogey coming at the 14th.

"I didn't hit the ball particularly well but holed my fair share of putts from eight to 10 feet and my short game was on," said McDermott.

While he has won two Senior Cups and a Barton Shield with Co Sligo and had close calls in the West and the East of Ireland Championships, McDermott still has ambitions of winning an amateur "major" after improving his game with coaches Martin McTernan and Johnny Foster.

"Winning a championship would be the icing on the cake," he said. "I still have ambitions to try and improve year on year and I am still enjoying it – but it's only the first round."

While officials reduced the course by 208 yards to 7,089 yards with the promise of more forward tees today, Lytham Trophy winner Thriston Lawrence of South Africa was happy to shoot 73 but Irish internationals Dermot McElroy and Reeve Whitson were frustrated as they double-bogeyed the famous 18th for 76s.

Irish Independent

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