McLarnon is in Irish Open race as Mullarney finds early form
Massereene's Tiarnán McLarnon is the leading Ulsterman, five shots off the lead, after the opening round of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Co Sligo.
Ireland international Ronan Mullarney from Co Galway leads on nine-under after carding a course record 62.
McLarnon, who partnered Mullarney at last year's Home Internationals, made four birdies to post 67. The 27-year-old shares fifth place overnight.
"It was good shooting," McLarnon reflected. "After nine, I probably felt like I left a couple out there because I was only one under. But, three-under coming back in, I was pretty happy with how I played. Any time you go bogey free in a championship, you're playing good golf."
The patient approach paid dividends for McLarnon. He picked up birdies at 15 and 16 to finish the day in a healthy position inside the top five.
"Stroke play is probably my strongest point so hopefully I'll have a chance come Sunday evening," said McLarnon. "I'm playing well. I'm playing golf the way that I want to play it - fairways, greens and hitting puts."
With a course record in the bag and a four stroke lead, the opening day belonged to Mullarney. The 23-year-old from Galway reeled off five birdies in a row on the back nine to set a formidable target for the field.
"I don't like to hide from the fact if I'm going well," said Mullarney. "If it comes to the last day and there's a few people following me, I know I'm doing well."