County Sligo's Gary McDermott birdied two of his last three holes to take a two-stroke lead over Scotland's Jamie Savage and the Isle of Man's Tom Gandy at the halfway stage of the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin.
The 32-year old, now playing out of Carton House, picked up shots at the 16th and 17th to add a one under 71 to his opening 69 to lead on four under 140.
Seeking his maiden Championship win, McDermott birdied the first two holes, bogeyed the fourth but then two putted the sixth for birdie to lead by three shots on five under at the turn.
Check out Golffile.ie's photo gallery from round two at Royal Dublin
With the wind whipping into him on the back nine, he bogeyed the 10th, 13th and 14th but finished strongly, hitting a 100 yard wedge to 15 feet at the 16th before firing a seven iron to 10 feet at the 17th.
"If you are going to pick up anything, you try to do it early," McDermott said. "You know that on the back nine, bogey is not a bad score. I accepted the back nine was probably playing to par, two or three over par. So, I would have been more than happy with anything in or around par.
"Anytime you are better to par around Royal Dublin, any sort of day, you are walking off with a smile on your face. I just dug deep and managed to hit a couple of good shots at the end that added a bit of a gloss to the round."
Refusing to look too far ahead, he added: “It is two rounds of golf. That’s all. Two good rounds. The clock starts again tomorrow and we will just try and grind something out again.”
Savage threatened to bring Royal Dublin to its knees but while he finished bogey-bogey, his four under par 68 is the best round of the week so far, leaving him tied for second with Gandy on two under par.
The 19-year old from Cawder Golf Club in Glasgow, winner of last year's East of Scotland Championship, birdied the second and third before holing 20 footers for birdies at the par-three seventh and ninth to turn in 31.
Further birdies at the par-five 11th and the downwind 15th put him six under for the round on a day when a west wind gusting to 30 mph made the back nine particularly testing, despite the fact that course has been shortened by 404 yards to 6,893 yards.
But he came unstuck over the tough closing stretch. While the tee was up 54 yards at the 17th, he leaked his tee shot into the lateral hazard but saved bogey after a drop and two putts following a four iron to 20 feet. Then, at the 18th, he pulled his approach well left and failed with a five footer for par.
"I expected to do well, I have been playing well," said Savage, whose father Stewart is the professional at Dalmuir. "I was beaten in a playoff for the Battle Trophy last month.
"I got off to agood start, birdied the two par 3s — 7 and 9 to go to four under — and apart from the last couple of holes, I didn’t do too much wrong."
Targeting a place in Scotland's six-man team for the European Team Championships, Savage added: "It was a poor finish. I just leaked my drive on 17. I wasn’t comfortable standing over tee shot but I just hit it and I got what I deserved. It was a tough day, hard to keep concentrating for 18 holes especially in the wind."
Gandy — tied sixth in the qualifying before losing to Jeff Hopkins in the second round of the "West" last month — played his last eight holes in a sensational three under to card a second successive 71 to set the target at two under before Savage joined him at the top.
The man from the Isle of Man birdied the second but then bogeyed the seventh, eighth and 10th before roaring back with birdies at the 11th, 14th and 18th.
South Africa's Thriston Lawrence, winner of last week's Lytham Trophy, had five birdies and three bogeys in a 70 to share third place with Scotland's Alexander Culverwell on one under par.
"I struck the ball nicely," Lawrence said. "It was windy but at least it wasn't too cold so you could play your normal game. I three-putted 10 into the wind, which was a bit of a mistake and missed a short putt on 12. But I made plenty of birdies so I am happy with the round.
"I think it's great experience coming over here. If you can do well in these conditions then there is no wind you will find on the tour in the future that will be any tougher. It is great preparation for the future, I think."
Irish Close champion Cormac Sharvin from Ardglass made four birdies in his first six holes and missed a hatful of chances as he shot 70 to share sixth on level par 144 with West of Ireland champion Jack Hume, who shot a second successive 72.
"I played really well from tee to green and probably left a few out there to be honest," said Sharvin, who had tour caddie Brian Martin, his uncle, on his bag.
Martin caddie for Alexander Levy in the Frenchman's European Tour win last week and he certainly hasn't done his nephew any harm.
"It's as good as I've played in a long time," said Sharvin, who was frustrated to three-putt the 18th for his from around 25 feet for his second bogey of the day. "I felt as if I putted okay I just didn't drop anything.
"When I missed a green I had a simple up and down. My only bad shot was at the seventh, where I pulled a four iron, pitched to three feet and missed. I missed about four or five putts inside 10 feet."
The Island's Kevin Le Blanc, now 16, holed from eight feet for par at the last for a level par 72 that leaves him well in contention on two over 146 alongside 19-year old Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa (71), who is the highest ranked player in the field at 30th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
"I made some silly mistakes but I played well," Bezuidenhout said. "Otherwise I'm happy.
"I am over here for two months to get experience and get used to these courses and conditions. I hope to turn professional after the Eisenhower Trophy, that's my goal anyway to play that and then turn pro.
"I played Lytham and from here we will play the Welsh, the Scottish Amateur, the St Andrews Links Trophy, the British Amateur and the Brabazon Trophy and then back home.
"I have some people helping me financially, which makes it a little easier because the rand is not that strong against the pound and the euro.
"I'm a member of the Ernie Els Foundation — this is my fourth year — and he's helped me tremendously. It's been very good and really I couldn't do it without his help so I am very grateful for the opportunities I have."
Mourne’s Reeve Whitson was delighted to fire a one under 71 to share ninth spot on three over with the cut not set to fall until after today's third round.
“That's the first par I’ve had on the last for about three years,” joked Whitson, who has had trouble on the 18th several times in recent years but made sure he stayed out of the Garden this time.
“I had the ball under a bit more control today and holed those crucial two and three footers, which you have to because you have so many of them. So I cleaned up well on the greens inside five feet.”
Massereene’s Tiarnan McLarnon (75), Knock’s Colin Fairweather (76) and Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell (76) are tied for 19th on five over.
But Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy was frustrated as he shot a 74 to slip to tied 26th on six over.
“My game is in very good shape but I am just making stupid mistakes out there,” said McElroy, who was two under after five holes before three bogeys in a row from the eighth frustrated him and he then double bogeyed the 14th following a plugged lie in a bunker before picking up a late birdie at the 17th.
“The one at the ninth annoyed me because I couldn't have hit a better shot," he said. "I flagged this seven iron that pitched a foot from the pin and then rolled slowly off the green into a sandy divot and I missed a five footer after a nice chip.”
Irish Amateur Open, Royal Dublin GC (Par 72)
Round Three Draw - Saturday 10th May
07:00 S McGlynn (Carton House), P Dedek (Czech Republic)
07:11 Y Taler (Israel), L Thiele (Brazil)
07:22 A Michellod (Switzerland), S Zach (Czech Republic), D Carey (Carton House)
07:33 M Harradine (Switzerland), J McGinn (Laytown & Bettystown), G Costa (Portugal)
07:44 G Van Baarle (Belgium), NJ Arnoldi (South Africa), D Deschler (USA)
07:55 A Sutherland (Scotland), R Connolly (Palmerstown Stud), L Leysen (Belgium)
08:06 C Mills (Shandon Park), A Verschaeren (Luxembourg), L Jansen (Netherlands)
08:17 C Carroll (Shandon Park), A Blaney (Scotland), R Bridges (Stackstown)
08:28 G Lappin (Belvoir Park), W Russell (Clandeboye), K Kulokorpi (Finland)
08:39 S McCarthy (Black Bush), P Reilly (Scotland), S O'Connor (Luttrellstown Castle)
08:50 K McDonagh (The Royal Dublin), L Hutchinson (The Royal Dublin), P Coughlan (Moate)
09:01 S Moran (Carton House), E Arthurs (Forrest Little), R O'Donovan (Lucan)
09:12 D Brady (Co. Sligo), D Kay (Scotland), D Brennan (Shannon)
09:23 G Stevenson (Scotland), C O'Rourke (Naas), J Magalhaes (Portugal)
09:45 S Ryan (The Royal Dublin), J Yeomans (England), D Reidy (Co. Sligo)
09:56 R Symington (Lisburn), V Lopes (Portugal), G Collins (Rosslare)
10:07 A Tourinho (Brazil), S O'Hara (Co. Sligo), L Lipold (Austria)
10:18 E Smith (Ardee), S Bryan (Delgany), S Lopez (Spain)
10:29 R Hopwood (England), H McCullen (England), C Howie (Scotland)
10:40 JR Galbraith (Whitehead), R Cannon (Balbriggan), R Lester (Hermitage)
10:51 D Young (Scotland), M Shanahan (Castlemartyr), M Kippen (England)
11:02 R McNamara (Headfort), H Arkenau (Germany), B Best (Rathmore)
11:13 D Boshart (Netherlands), A Wilson (Wales), C Syme (Scotland)
11:24 B Neil (Scotland), E McCormack (Galway), E Holland (England)
11:35 R Knightly (The Royal Dublin), J Allan (England), A Choen (Israel)
11:46 J Duff (Scotland), S Borrowman (Scotland), W Hanna (Kilkeel)
11:57 M Kuronen (Finland), G Mottershead (England), A Dunton (Scotland)
12:19 J Lombardo (Germany), S Healy (Claremorris), B Anderson (The Royal Dublin)
12:30 S Cullen (Slieve Russell), E Griffin (Waterford), L Ruuska (Finland)
12:41 K McCarthy (Castlemartyr), J Bush (Wales), J Fox (Portmarnock)
12:52 J Hopkins (The Royal Dublin), H Tomlinson (England), D Holland (Castle)
13:03 I O'Rourke (The Royal Dublin), D McElroy (Ballymena), G Lenehan (Portmarnock)
13:14 C Campbell (Warrenpoint), C Fairweather (Knock), T McLarnon (Massereene)
13:25 D Coghlan (Portmarnock), P Mc Bride (The Island), J Greene (Portmarnock)
13:36 S Grehan (Tullamore), S Gibson (Scotland), R Dawson (Faithlegg)
13:47 M Penge (England), R van West (Netherlands), N MacAndrew (Scotland)
13:58 R Whitson (Mourne), S Westdijk (Netherlands), K Le Blanc (The Island)
14:09 C Bezuidenhout (South), Africa A Mason (England), J Hume (Naas)
14:20 C Sharvin (Ardglass), A Culverwell (Scotland), T Lawrence (South Africa)
14:31 T Gandy (Isle of Man), J Savage (Scotland), G McDermott (Carton House)
After 36 holes
140 Gary McDermott (Carton House) 69 71
142 Jamie Savage (Scotland) 74 68, Tom Gandy (Isle of Man) 71 71
143 Thriston Lawrence (South Africa) 73 70, Alexander Culverwell (Scotland) 70 73
144 Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass) 74 70, Jack Hume (Naas) 72 72
145 Ashley Mason (England) 72 73
146 Christiaan Bezuidenhout (South Africa) 75 71, Kevin Le Blanc (The Island) 74 72, Sem Westdijk (Netherlands) 71 75
147 Reeve Whitson (Mourne) 76 71, Nick MacAndrew (Scotland) 75 72, Robbie van West (Netherlands) 73 74
148 Marco Penge (England) 79 69, Robin Dawson (Faithlegg) 74 74, Scott Gibson (Scotland) 73 75, Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) 72 76
149 John Greene (Portmarnock) 76 73, Paul Mc Bride (The Island) 76 73, Darragh Coghlan (Portmarnock) 75 74, Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) 74 75, Colin Fairweather (Knock) 73 76, Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) 73 76, Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) 73 76
150 Dermot McElroy (Ballymena) 76 74, Ian O'Rourke (The Royal Dublin) 75 75, Daniel Holland (Castle) 75 75, Jeff Hopkins (The Royal Dublin) 74 76, Henry Tomlinson (England) 74 76
151 Jack Bush (Wales) 78 73, James Fox (Portmarnock) 78 73, Kieran McCarthy (Castlemartyr) 78 73, Lauri Ruuska (Finland) 76 75, Barry Anderson (The Royal Dublin) 75 76, Seamus Cullen (Slieve Russell) 75 76, Eanna Griffin (Waterford) 75 76, Stephen Healy (Claremorris) 74 77, Janes Lombardo (Germany) 73 78
152 Adam Dunton (Scotland) 78 74, Gus Mottershead (England) 76 76, Miki Kuronen (Finland) 75 77, William Hanna (Kilkeel) 75 77
153 Scott Borrowman (Scotland) 80 73, John Duff (Scotland) 79 74, Assaf Choen (Israel) 78 75, James Allan (England) 77 76, Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin) 76 77
154 Eddy Holland (England) 79 75, Eddie McCormack (Galway) 79 75, Bradley Neil (Scotland) 79 75, Adam Wilson (Wales) 78 76, Connor Syme (Scotland) 78 76, Ben Best (Rathmore) 76 78, Dylan Boshart (Netherlands) 76 78, Rory McNamara (Headfort) 74 80, Hinrich Arkenau (Germany) 74 80, Matt Kippen (England) 73 81
(---projected cut for top 50 and ties after 54 holes----)
155 Mark Shanahan (Castlemartyr) 82 73, Daniel Young (Scotland) 80 75, Rowan Lester (Hermitage) 78 77, Robert Cannon (Balbriggan) 78 77, John-Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) 77 78, Craig Howie (Scotland) 76 79, Haydn McCullen (England) 75 80
156 Sigot Lopez (Spain) 77 79, Ross Hopwood (England) 77 79, Eugene Smith (Ardee) 76 80, Simon Bryan (Delgany) 76 80
157 Lukas Lipold (Austria) 83 74, Steffan O'Hara (Co. Sligo) 83 74, Andre Tourinho (Brazil) 82 75, Gary Collins (Rosslare) 81 76, Declan Reidy (Co. Sligo) 80 77, Ryan Symington (Lisburn) 80 77, Vitor Lopes (Portugal) 80 77, James Yeomans (England) 80 77, Sean Ryan (The Royal Dublin) 79 78, Conor O'Rourke (Naas) 79 78, Gordon Stevenson (Scotland) 79 78, Joao Magalhaes (Portugal) 79 78
158 Daniel Brennan (Shannon) 85 73, Daniel Kay (Scotland) 83 75, David Brady (Co. Sligo) 82 76, Richard O'Donovan (Lucan) 82 76, Eoin Arthurs (Forrest Little.) 80 78, Sean Moran (Carton House) 80 78, Paul Coughlan (Moate) 78 80, Liam Hutchinson (The Royal Dublin) 77 81, Kelan McDonagh (The Royal Dublin) 76 82
159 Shaun O'Connor (Luttrellstown Castle) 81 78, Paul Reilly (Scotland) 81 78, Stephen McCarthy (Black Bush) 80 79, Gerard Lawlor (Rathsallagh) 79 80, Ewen Ferguson (Scotland) 79 80, Kristian Kulokorpi (Finland) 78 81
160 William Russell (Clandeboye) 83 77, Gareth Lappin (Belvoir Park) 80 80, Richard Bridges (Stackstown) 78 82, Anthony Blaney (Scotland) 78 82, Chris Carroll (Shandon Park) 77 83
161 Laurens Jansen (Netherlands) 83 78, Alexander Verschaeren (Luxembourg) 81 80
162 Cameron Mills (Shandon Park) 84 78, Louis Leysen (Belgium) 83 79
163 Roy Connolly (Palmerstown Stud) 84 79
164 Alan Sutherland (Scotland) 82 82, David Deschler (USA) 79 85
165 NJ Arnoldi (South Africa) 86 79, Goncalo Costa (Portugal) 84 81, Gaetan Van Baarle (Belgium) 84 81, John McGinn (Laytown & Bettystown) 83 82, Michael Harradine (Switzerland) 80 85
166 David Carey (Carton House) 86 80, Simon Zach (Czech Republic) 85 81
170 Adrien Michellod (Switzerland) 85 85
173 Luis Thiele (Brazil) 91 82, Yair Taler (Israel) 88 85
174 Petr Dedek (Czech Republic) 92 82
175 Shane McGlynn (Carton House) 91 84
DQ Craig Ross (Scotland) DQ, Colin Baird (Scotland) DQ
How the course played