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England's Poppleton heads charge at Royal County Down


By Paul Kelly

England's Nicholas Poppleton leads the way after carding a four under par 67 on the opening day of the Flogas Irish Amateur Championship at Royal County Down.

The Rotherham based golfer has a one shot lead over South African Kyle McClatchie and another Englishman, Matthew Jordan.

"I played pretty solid," he said. "I was lovely off the tee all day. Hit a lot of great tee shots, a lot of drivers, and it was nice that some of the tee boxes were moved up.

"I got caught out by that a few times, but looking at my playing partners helped me," said the plus three handicapper.

"It's my first time here. I played Royal Dublin two years ago and sadly didn't make the trip back last year. I regretted that. I thought, I can't miss out around here."

Defending champion, Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell, endured a tough day on the links baked hard by the recent dry spell and signed for an eight over par 79.

The leading Ulster contender is Knock's Colin Fairweather who finds himself four shots back after opening with a level par 71 which included three birdies and three bogeys.

"You can't get a better day than that around Royal County Down," said the 26-year-old Fairweather. "I'm happy enough. It was a bit ropey coming in but I just plotted my way around and it seems to have been a good enough score.

"I started off with a birdie - it wasn't the prettiest birdie but you don't need perfect golf to score around here. I got up and down at the 12th for another birdie and holed a nice putt for a birdie on the 13th.

"Unfortunately I three-putted 16 for birdie and I missed a few short putts otherwise it could have been a bit lower.

"I'm not too far off the lead at the moment.

"I'm good enough to come out on top of one of these things. I just need to get stuck in now and let things happen."

Forrest Little's Jack McDonnell is the best placed of the home contingent after carding a two under par 69 with Peter O'Keeffe (Douglas), Portmarnock's James Fox and Joe Lyons (Galway) a shot further back.

Round two gets under way today at 7am with the top 50 and ties progressing to the final round on Sunday following a 54-hole cut.

Meanwhile, Banbridge professional Richard Kilpatrick fired a one under par 70 to claim the Ruddy Cup for Young Professionals at The European Club.

The 35-year-old edged out playing partner Noel Murray (American Golf) by a shot at the Pat Ruddy designed masterpiece in Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow.

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