Five birdies on his back nine fired Scott Fallon to a two-shot lead at the end of Round One of the Ulster Bank Open at Galgorm Castle on Wednesday.
The London golfer signed for an eight-under-par 64 on the opening day of the event, the fourth of the 888poker.com PGA EuroPro Tour season.
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Starting his round on the 10th tee, Fallon opened with a birdie before gaining further shots on the 14th, 15th and 18th. He then proceeded to improve his score by a further five shots on his back nine with a bogey at the second the only blemish on his card.
Philip Ridden (City of Newcastle Golf Club) is Fallonâ€™s closest contender. The 26-year-old turned professional this season and an opening-round of 66 puts him in a great position to make his first cut of the Tour season.
James Hepworth (Ilkley Golf Club) is tied for third with Dale Whitnell (Five Lakes) after carding 67 with the help of an eagle on the ninth. Hepworth was victorious after winning a play off at Galgorm two years ago and is in a strong position ahead of Thursdayâ€™s second round.
Whitnell is also five under par, three shots behind the leader. He began his round with a three on the par-four first and didnâ€™t drop a shot on his opening round.
Paul Reed (Bristol and Clifton Golf Club), Gareth Davies (Abbeydale Golf Club), Adam Keogh (Boston West Golf Club) and Alex Belt (The De Vere Club) are all tied for fifth having carded 68 on the opening day.
West Ham United midfielder Gary Oâ€™Neil is playing as an amateur in the event and is tied for 63rd after shooting 74.
Round Two gets underway at 7:30am on Thursday with a two-tee start. The Ulster Bank Open is a 54-hole strokeplay event with a field of 164 golfers playing 18 holes on both Wednesday and Thursday. There will then be a cut to the leading 50 players and ties who will play a final 18 holes on Friday.
Entry to the event is free to spectators all week. As well as the golf there is a tented village featuring free childrenâ€™s golf lessons from Junior Golf Ireland, ecurie25 supercars and Bushmills Distillery among other displays.