Reeve Whitson was the top Irish qualifier for the matchplay stage of the Australian Amateur Open Championship at Woodlands and Huntingdale Golf Club in Melbourne.
The Mourne player fired rounds of 76 and 71 to cruise into the matchplay stages in 16th place as Niall Gorey and Gary Hurely made the top 64 with a shot to spare. (Qualifying scores)
As Whitson qualified comfortably on three over par after a 71 at Huntingdale - six shots behind medalist and reigning Australian Stroke Play champion Cameron Smith of Queensland - Gorey and Hurley finished tied 51st on nine over par.
Kildare native Gorey, who now plays out of Muskerry, was forced to birdie the last for a 76 to avoid what turned out to be a marathon play-off between the 12 players for the last seven spots on 10 over 154.
West Waterford player Hurley, who was also playing at Huntingdale, added a 75 to his opening 78 to join Gorey on 153.
Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy, the other member of the GUI quartet nominated to play in three amateur events in Australia, added a 78 at Huntingdale to his first round 82 to finish well outside the qualifiers on 16 over.
Whitson will face England’s Ashley Chesters in the first matchplay round at Woodlands Golf Club with Hurley drawn against Ben Clemenston of New South Wales. (Match Play draw)
Gorey will face the New Zealander Blair Riordan.
The Irish quartet are schedule to play in the Lake Macquarie Amateur Championship (72 hole strokeplay) at Belmont Golf Club in Sydney from January 26-29 followed by the New South Wales Amateur,
The New South Wales Amateur begins with a 72-hole stroke play tournament at Mona Vale Golf Club and Long Reef Golf Club in Sydney from February 1-3. The top-32 finishers qualifying for the Amateur Championship itself, decided over three days of match play at nearby Elanora Golf Club from February 6-8.