Robin Dawson (Tramore) carded a second-round 71 to stay ahead of the chasing pack on day two of the Flogas Irish Amateur Championship at Royal County Down.
After two rounds, Dawson is on six-under with England's Alex Fitzpatrick two shots back after a second-round 70.
"The wind got up. The last four holes were really tough coming back into it and you had to hit good shots so I am happy overall," said the 22-year-old.
"It's a funny course. You can get a few kicks and you have a great score going."
Fitzpatrick, brother of English Ryder Cup player Matt, is making his first visit to the world famous links.
"I didn't make it in last year which was a little annoying. I'm very happy I'm here this year. The course is in great condition," said the 19-year-old.
Behind Fitzpatrick there's a four-shot gap to the chasing pack. Castle's Alex Gleeson shares third place on level par with England's Andrew Wilson.
There is a 54-hole cut after today's third round with the top 50 and ties progressing.
Meanwhile, Ireland wrapped up a third successive International King's Cup victory following the final day of competition at Lough Erne Resort yesterday.
Supported by Tourism NI, the International King's Cup is a Ryder Cup-style tournament which honours golf's greatest ambassador, Arnold Palmer.
Ireland dominated the fourball and greensomes sessions on Wednesday and Thursday to take a huge lead into the 12 singles.
Team USA got off to a great start when Brad Garrett won his opening tie against Martin White, but it never looked like there'd be a comeback.
Bob Daddano beat Liam Byrne and Matt McDevitt beat Colin O'Leary, who managed a hole in one at the third, but that was as good as it got for the USA.
Wins for Sean O'Gallachoir, Pat Creamer, Michael Ryan, Declan McKeever and Darren McKeever set up Martin Smyth to grab the winning points.