Joel Girrbach set a new course record as an eight under par round of 64 gave him a one-stroke lead at the end of the opening day of the Irish Challenge at The K Club.
The 2017 Swiss Challenge winner wrote his name into the history books on a low scoring day on the Palmer South Course, with Frenchman Gary Stal, Italy’s Stefano Mazzoli and Irishman Conor Purcell one stroke back on seven under par.
Girrbach was forced to save par on his opening hole but burst into life with a birdie and eagle at the second and third before setting an early target which nobody was able to equal.
“It’s amazing, I'm really pleased with that round and great to have a start like that,” he said. “It was a fantastic morning out there, beautiful weather, great conditions, and my game was brilliant this morning.
“I had a bit of shaky start. I was a bit surprised how quick the greens were this morning. Made a good par on the first and almost holed one on the second, so it was a brilliant start. Then the eagle on three, it helped me to keep on going like this with a start like that. Otherwise it was just all in all really solid, not many mistakes and I’m really pleased with it.”
The 29-year-old has only two top tens in his last 40 starts on the Road to Mallorca but with six consecutive made cuts coming into this week in County Kildare, is looking to contend at the top of the leaerboard.
“I’ve played really solid but I’ve just been missing a good weekend,” he said. “Last week in Germany was actually the first weekend where I got up there and almost made the top ten, which would be the goal.
“I put a lot of work into putting with a new routine and my putter has changed a bit, it's still the same model but a little bit different and it feels like it helped me a lot the last few weeks.”
Five players share fifth place on six under par, including Englishman Todd Clements, Scotland’s Craig Ross, Frenchman Jeon weon Ko, South African Deon Germishuys and home favourite John Murphy.
South Africa’s Tristen Strydom recorded his third hole-in-one, and first in Europe, when he aced the par three 17th hole on his way to a three under par round 69.