Donal Gleeson admitted he was among friends as he tied top spot at the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship Irish Region qualifier at The Heritage.
Gleeson, of the Old Conna Club, played alongside David Mortimer as the pair both made two under par on a difficult day to win a place in the £78,000 final.
Mortimer, of Fore Ireland, is the 2006 Irish PGA Champion and had never played in the Glenmuir tournament before which is also supported by Peugeot and MPI Financial Services.
He had wanted to make sure he could be competitive before the event but comfortably joined the nine qualifiers for the 72-hole final at The Oxfordshire which takes place from August 10-13.
Gleeson admitted it was a tough day but said it was helpful to have Mortimer with him.
"I know David quite well so we had a lot of fun actually," he said.
"It got quite competitive as well, but as we are friends we were able to relax a little more.
"I was happy to get two under par and it was a co-incidence that both myself and David were playing together as we tied for the lead.
"Qualifying for the final was goal and I enjoyed the day.
"The course played extremely long. Some of the holes were playing crazy.
"But I tried not to get too excited about anything and play solidly, I was hitting the middle of the greens and putting well.
"I was pleased with one shot in particular at the eighth, I hit a five iron to within 20 feet."
Mortimer admitted he had to overcome a back problem the night before the event.
"I felt a twinge but thankfully it held off on the day," he said.
"I went from level par to two over on the front nine, but then shot four under on the back nine.
"But I was probably only playing at about 70 per cent.
"It was good to be playing alongside Donald, he's get a birdie and then I'd get one. He's right when he said we were having fun out there - if you're having fun then the scores look after themselves.
"I was pleased with two under, especially as it was my first Glenmuir event.
"And I think I'll be able to keep the back under control this year with a bit of stretching in the gym!"
The Glenmuir championship is the flagship event on the PGA calendar and the Irish last tasted success in the event three years ago when Ashbourne's John Dwyer landed the title at Royal Porthcawl.
"The start of the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship qualifiers always marks the beginning of the tournament season for PGA pros, and we are really looking forward to another fantastic year of golf," said Glenmuir managing director Colin Mee.
"Now more than ever the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship offers professionals the chance to compete with fellow professionals, but also to meet and share views and ideas on current trading. We hope all of the competitors will enjoy this year's tournament."
Courtesy of Irish PGA