Amateur champion Sugrue leads...


Amateur champion Sugrue leads the Irish challenge at the Irish Open

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James Sugrue claims he's not thinking about emulating Shane Lowry's Irish Open heroics just yet, despite a fine first round at Galgorm Castle. 

Last year's Amateur Champion at Portmarnock leads the Irish challenge at the County Antrim course.

Sugrue shot a 67 to finish the day on -3. He's just two-shots off the joint-leaders Dean Burmester, Jordan Smith and Aaron Rai.

"To be honest I thought the course - from the last two days - was gettable enough if you hit it well off the tee," the Mallow native said after his round.

"I hit it really well off the tee today so I gave myself a lot of chances. I was kind of a bit unlucky on 16 and 17 - [I] hit two nice shots in there but made two pars."

Sugrue says he was "happy enough" with his first 18 holes, but shied away from comparisons to Lowry.

The Clara native was still an amateur when he won the competition at Baltray in 2009, but Sugrue warned, "There's a lot of golf to be played yet".

The changeable conditions may yet hamper his cause, "Conditions were tricky. Although we didn't get wet, it was definitely blowing.

"It was gusty, and when you're caught in those holes where there's trees all around, you just don't know what way the wind is blowing so you just kind of have to trust it."

Sugrue's Amateur Champion status affords him the chance to tee it up at Augusta in November, and he says he's likely to turn pro shortly afterwards.

He was three-shots better off than the next best Irishman, who was Damien McGrane on level par.

Jonathan Caldwell and Padraig Harrington both ended the day on +1.

Teenage amateur Tom McKibbin finished up on +3, a shot better off than both Gavin Moynihan and Mark Power (a).

But it was a day to forget for the 2009 champion.

Shane Lowry admits to struggling around the Galgorm course, saying, "I pretty much did everything really badly today. From course management to decision-making to actually pulling off the shots.

"It was not very nice out there, but look I gave it my best - that's all I could do."

Lowry says his goal on Friday will be to simply make the cut.

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Damien McGrane Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Galgorm Castle Irish Open James Sugrue Jonathan Caldwell Padraig Harrington Shane Lowry

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