Ireland’s Michael McDermott took inspiration from compatriot Padraig Harrington as he shot a superb opening round eight under par 64 to lead Estanislao Goya by one stroke at the Challenge of Ireland presented by Glasson.
McDermott honed his skills at Stackstown Golf Club where the double Open Champion also perfected his game and some of Harrington’s magic seemed to have rubbed off on the 28 year old, who carded nine birdies and just the one bogey at Glasson Golf Hotel and Country Club.
He opened with four successive birdies before picking up another two shots on the sixth and seventh – after narrowly missing a birdie putt on five - in a superb front nine that saw him reach the turn in just 30 strokes. He then birdied the 10th hole but carded his first bogey on the 12thbefore picking up two more shots on the 14th and 17th.
McDermott admitted that Harrington, whose elder brother Tadhg is an occasional caddie for him, had been a big influence on his game and that his recent defence of The Open Championship had provided further inspiration.
He said: “It was great to see Padraig win at The Open. It was fantastic that he backed up his win last year and did it again. Padraig was great with the young lads at Stackstown. He gave me lots of advice when I was younger. I was talking to Tadhg during the week and wished Padraig well.
“When I was a kid Padraig was the top amateur in the country. One of the first things he said to me was when I was hitting 30 yards pitch shots and he asked how far it was to where I was pitching to and I said I didn’t know. He said you got to know exactly how far you are hitting it. So he gave me lots of little bits of advice. He was a bit of an inspiration when we were kids. It’s great to see what he’s done.”
McDermott, who is aiming for a top 10 finish this week to secure a place in the field for the Lexus Open in Norway next week, said he had considered the possibility of shooting an even better first round score at one point during the front nine.
“Shooting a 59 did cross my mind but it was a long way away,” he said. “I suppose it did after the seventh but there was an awful long way to go. I went close on eight and thought I’d love to go through on 29. It was my best round of the season.”
Goya is just one shot behind McDermott after recovering from a bogey on the first hole to card a seven under par round of 65, which included an eagle three on the 14th hole.
The 20 year old Argentine, who led the Challenge Tour Rankings earlier this year after winning the Abierto Visa del Centro presentado por Personal, is looking for a good finish to keep his place in the top 10 of the Rankings.
He said: “I’m very happy. I putted very well today. That was the key. I hit a lot of greens which also helped. The key today was the putting though. When I bogeyed the first hole after hitting the middle of the fairway I was not happy. But it was the first hole so I said I could still play a good round.”
Another Irishman, David Higgins, is a shot further adrift on six under par along with Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, while Ireland’s Colm Moriarty carded a 67 on his home course, one of nine players on five under par on a day when the afternoon groups endured worsening conditions including two 25 minute rain suspensions.
Moriarty said: “This could be the week for me. I’m going in the right direction and my short game is improving. Although I practice here I don’t play on the course that much but it is nice to have a tournament here.”
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