Damien McGrane matches young guns on rain delayed day one at NI Open

Damien McGrane (IRL) on the 17th tee during Round 1 of the Tayto Northern Ireland Open in partnership with Ulster Bank at Galgorm Castle Golf Club, Ballymena Co. Antrim on Thursday 28th July 2016. Picture: Golffile | Thos Caffrey All photos usage must carry mandatory copyright credit (© Golffile | Thos Caffrey)

Damien McGrane (IRL) on the 17th tee during Round 1 of the Tayto Northern Ireland Open in partnership with Ulster Bank at Galgorm Castle 
Picture: Golffile | Thos Caffrey

Damien McGrane proved once again that there is no substitute for experience as he forced his way into the lead at a rain interrupted day one of the Tayto NI Open at Galgorm Castle.
The 45-year-old matched the young guns of the Challenge Tour, carding a mistake free six birdie round of 65 on a course softened by an overnight deluge that forced play to be delayed by six hours.
“I played lovely from start to finish, hit a lot of good tee shots and found the middle of the fairways,” said McGrane who came into the tournament on the back of two recent victories on the PGA in Ireland circuit.
“I was able to be patient and holed a couple coming in to reach six under. It was a stress free round which doesn’t often happen but it happened today.
“I don’t have any expectations. I just want to do well and put on a good show.”
McGrane was joined at the top of the leaderboard by Sam Hutsby, Bernd Ritthammer, Ben Stowm Daniel Gaunt, Dylan Frittelli and another Irish player, Rory McNamara.
Damien added; “I think the course here has some birdie opportunities but you have to hit the fairways to have a chance. Funnily enough, even after all the rain if you hit the middle of the fairway the ball does want to run 20 yards.

“Its very playable, the greens are soft now but they were very, very good for us to putt on because we were out early. We made the best of the conditions it was nice to get off to a good start.”

Play was eventually suspended for the day at 9pm with 26 groups still to finish the first round, amongst them, Dermot McElroy and Cormac Sharvin.
They face a long day on Friday as they will return to wrap up round one at 8am before heading out again to begin their second rounds.
Those players lucky enough to have completed their opening rounds on Thursday will begin their second rounds on Friday afternoon/evening.
Tournament ambassador Michael Hoey was amongst the players to get finished round one yesterday and will have a welcome lie in on Friday morning.
Hoey fired a three under par round of 68 to put himself firmly on track to make the cut at the fourth time of asking.
“I didn’t play great but got it round ok. It’s wasn’t playing that difficult, it’s soft and it’s target golf,” said Michael.

“At least I’m not out of the tournament which I have been by this stage in recent years. Now I can relax and see what I can do over the next few days.”

Michael added; “There was a point there today when I was struggling a bit. I bogeyed the third and made a couple of poor swings but I dug in well, finished strongly, made some good swings and picked up three birdies in a row.
“I could easily have gone the other way if I hadn’t dug in well, that was a big turning point.”
Michael’s three under par total was matched by Whitehead amateur John Ross Galbraith who collected four birdies and dropped only one shot in a strong performance.
“I drove the ball really well today. I think I only missed two fairways,” said John Ross who missed defending his North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush because of a neck injury.
“I was driving it pretty long and straight so I was able to give myself opportunities going into the greens. My iron play wasn’t bang on or I could have gone really, really low today
“I missed a few chances on the greens as well but overall it was decent start.”

Live scoring from Tayto NI Open in partnership with Ulster Bank

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