Whitford grabs round one lead at North of Ireland Professional Championship

Ricky Whitford

Ricky Whitford

Knock’s Ricky Whitford grabbed the first round lead at the North of Ireland Professional Championship sponsored by Scullion Management Consultants.
Whitford’s two under par 67 at St Patrick’s GC, Downpatrick gave him a one shot lead over home club professional, Robbie Hutton, heading into Friday’s 36 hole finale.
Heavy rain threatened to disrupt proceedings on Thursday but the players battled on with 26 of them making the cut.
Whitford has won a number of pro-am events at the Downpatrick venue and a hat-trick of birdies from the 12th hole laid the foundations for Thursday’s round.
A drive and three-wood followed by a chip and putt secured his birdie at the 12th and after an eight iron to the green at the next hole he rolled in a 15-footer for birdie. Then a six iron to three feet set up birdie three on the 14th green.
Ricky birdied the long third hole but he gave the shot back when he put his second approach into trees at the seventh for a bogey five, to turn in regulation 35. He also found trees, this time off the tee, at 16 to pencil in another bogey five.
Pre-event favourite, Damien Mooney is just two shots back alongside Massereene’s Noel Murray.
Players in the second round will tee-off between 8am and 8.45am with the final round starting at lunchtime.

North of Ireland Professional Championship in association with Scullion Management Consultants at St Patrick’s
Overnight Leaders: 67 (-2) – R Whitford (Knock).
68 – R Hutton (St Patrick’s).
69 – N Murray (Massereene), D Mooney (Ballyliffin).
70 – J Murray (Royal County Down), D Hughes (Massereene), P Martin (Colin Park Academy), C Crangle (Fortwilliam), C Carvill (Belvoir Pk).
71 – S Donnelly (Castle Hume).
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