he 17-year-old, who competed at the Irish Open at Galgorm Castle two weeks ago, shot a level-par 70 at The Players Club in Codrington, Bristol to sit tied-third after day one.
Clandeboye’s Aaron Lennie is also in contention to progress to the final stage in the qualifier at Luton Hoo Golf Club, shooting a one-under-par 72 to sit tied-28th.
Galgorm Castle amateur Jordan Hood, meanwhile, will need a good second round at Donnington Grove after a four-over-par 76 left him tied-36th after the opening day of his qualifier.
Only the top 28 finishers at each qualifier go forward to the final stage of Q School – which will be held at a later date and at a course yet to be determined – where players will compete for full Tour privileges.
Those who do not progress to the final qualifying stage will still receive limited playing privileges on next year’s Tour based on their performance in the first stage, meaning there is still something to play for outside those in the top 28.
Meanwhile, rain swept in and affected the first day of the PGA Professional Championship in Staffordshire where Northern Ireland duo Cameron Clark and Simon Thornton are competing.
Thornton, who is the pro at Tulfarris in Wicklow, was two under par through 10 holes before the conditions forced the suspension of play, while Clark, the professional at Moor Hall in the West Midlands, completed his first round and finished with a one-over-par 73.
The leader is England’s Matthew Ford, who shot a six-under 66 to hold a three-shot lead over Paul Nessling (Sedlescombe) and Andrew Willey (Oakmere).
Elsewhere, Ulster golfers Paula Grant (Lisburn), Olivia Mehaffey (Royal County Down), Jessica Ross (Clandeboye) and Annabel Wilson (Lurgan) have all been named on Golf Ireland’s high performance panel which will receive specialist coaching.