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Colm Campbell's bid for Irish glory at Ballyliffin off to steady start

By Paul Kelly

Irish Amateur champion Colm Campbell made a positive start to the AIG Irish Close Championship at Ballyliffin GC yesterday.

The Warrenpoint GC man fired a one-under-par 71 over the Glashedy Links to sit joint third alongside fellow Ulsterman and 2014 Close champion John Ross Galbraith of Whitehead.

"I'm pretty happy. Conditions were tricky although the golf course was set up pretty fair. There was a lot of wind out there. I'm happy with how I played despite making a bogey on the last, which was my only bogey of the day. Overall I'm pretty satisfied with how I went," said Campbell, who holed the winning putt for Ireland last week at the Home Internationals.

"I was a wee bit tired but I'm still feeling fresh and ready to go. I'll just try and get as much rest as possible. I had a long Sunday because I had to play for the club in the Senior Cup. I didn't get much rest before travelling here."

Co Louth's Thomas Mulligan leads the way after firing a three-under-par 69, with Robin Dawson (Tramore) a shot further back.

"I thought a score around 75 would be good because it's quite windy," said Mulligan. "I played quite well, I've been playing well coming into it. I knocked in a nice putt on the 11th for birdie, about 20 feet, so that was nice.

"It would be unbelievable (to win) but there's a long way to go. Last year I came second in qualifying and then I was walloped in the last 16 (beaten 9&7 by Robbie Pierse) so I'll just take it round by round and keep trying to build."

Defending champion Tiarnan McLarnon opened up with a four-over 76, good enough for a share of 16th place.

"I didn't play too badly, I just made a lot of mistakes around the greens. I birdied the last so hopefully I will get a quick start tomorrow and make it into the last 64," said the Massereene GC man, who also played for his club in the AIG Senior Cup on Sunday at Royal County Down.

"It's always good to play for your club. Unfortunately, we were beaten but it would have been nice to have had another day's rest before coming here. I'm feeling fine."

At the conclusion of the second round of stroke play qualifying today, the leading 64 players will progress to the match play stages.

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