Friday 24 May 2019

Mullarney hits the front at Irish Amateur Open after scintillating 62 in Sligo

Ronan Mullarney. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ronan Mullarney. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Brendan Coffey

Galway golfer Ronan Mullarney lit up the Flogas Irish Amateur Open with a scintillating score of 62 to take a four stroke lead after the opening round at Co Sligo.

Mullarney, 23, made four birdies in his first nine and reeled off five in a row on the way home to break the course record by two shots. Most importantly, he holds a commanding position atop the leaderboard.

"There’s no point lying, I was nervous coming in there," Mullarney admitted after signing off on his magical round, the lowest of his career. "I had a nice stretch in the middle from 11 to 15, I birdied them all."

Winner of the Irish Student Championship in 2018, Mullarney won his first Ireland cap at the Home Internationals last year. Four times he has placed in the top 10 this season, although the omens were troubling him as he teed off at Rosses Point.

"The whole day didn’t start well," Mullarney revealed. "I lost my wallet this morning. I forgot my battery leaving the house and I plonked it in the bunker on the first."

Undeterred, Mullarney plotted his way to an opening par. From there, he did not look back. He birdied three of his next four and reached the turn in four under.

"I don’t like to hide from the fact if I’m going well," he said. "If it comes to the last day and there’s a few people following me, I know I’m doing well. There’s no point hiding from it. Hopefully, I have to deal with it at some stage."

By the time he reached the 16th tee, Mullarney had bagged his ninth birdie. He kept the stress to a minimum over the closing stretch, hitting each green in regulation to finish with three straight pars.

A member of the Paddy Harrington Golf Scholarship Programme at Maynooth University, Mullarney is in the final year of his Master’s in Strategy & Innovation.

Three players share second place overnight: Scottish pair Robbie Muir and Euan Walker are locked together with England’s James Newton on five under. Next best of the home challengers are Connemara teenager Luke O’Neill, who made six birdies in a four under 67, and Massereene’s Tiarnán McLarnon, who went bogey free. O’Neill, a member of the Ireland Boys panel, and McLarnon, 27, are among a group of seven players tied fifth.

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