Thoroughbred Arthur Pierse has the game to gallop to an historic first victory in the Pierse Motors sponsored South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at Lahinch.
But at the age of 65 the former Walker Cup player admits that it’s not his game that’s the problem but his legs as he faces the possibility to have to play 72 holes or more over the next two days to win the amateur major he needs to complete the grand slam of Ireland’s four provincial titles.
Following a 3 and 2 first round win over Ardee’s Eugene Smith, Pierse surprised international John Ross Galbraith — a former Irish Close and North of Ireland champion — walking away a 2 and 1 winner to secure a last appearance for the second time in four years.
After suffering what he reckons were “five or six” semi-final defeats in the “South” over the last 40 years, the Tipperary native truly believes he can get over the line and lift the famous old trophy.
His biggest rival is not this morning’s third round rival Daniel Holland of Castle but his age.
In his youth, he beat Darren Clarke 7 and 6 in the semi-finals en route to North of Ireland glory in 1987 and his prowess with the driver is such that Pádraig Harrington feared him.
"Arthur Pierse was unquestionably the best driver of a ball that ever played in a left to right wind,” Harrington said. “His ability to swing the golf club and strike the golf ball was as good as any pro’s was or is…. You worried about playing Arthur Pierse."
“I am not worried about any of them,” he said with a big grin. “Can I win? The legs are the only thing. Sometimes you wake up and the adrenaline has gone. But I feel a bit better this time than I did the last few times I made it this far.
“I am playing as well as anyone. If there were 18 holes every day, I‘d have a great chance. But two rounds a day? Who knows? As I said, I am not worried about any of them, just me.”
Pierse, who hits the ball as far as he did in his prime, made just two bogeys day and made five birdies in his 35 holes, playing metronomically from tee to green and putting beautifully.
“He’s still got it.,” Galbraith said. “I was surprised how far he got the ball out there. He just doesn’t hit a bad shot.”
South of Ireland 2016, sponsored by Pierse Motors Volskwagen Ltd, Lahinch Golf Club (Par 72)
- (8.00) McLarnon v Lester;
- (8.10) Foy v Greene;
- (8.20) Whelan v Flanagan;
- (8.30) Holland v Pierse;
- (8.40) Campbell Jnr v Fox;
- (8.50) Hood v Dawson;
- (9.00) Mulligan v Purcell
- (9.10) Watts v Gleeson.
- Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) bt Evan Farrell (Ardee) 2/1
- Rowan Lester (Hermitage) bt Devin Morley (Oughterard) 2/1
- David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown) bt hane Hogan (Nenagh) 5/3
- John Greene (Portmarnock) bt Paul McBride (The Island) 20th
- Jake Whelan (Newlands) bt Stuart Bleakley (Shandon Park) 4/2
- Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo) bt Michael Reddan (Limerick) 2/1
- Daniel Holland (Castle) bt John Hickey (Cork) 1H
- Arthur Pierse (Tipperary) bt John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) 2/1
- Colm Campbell Jr. (Warrenpoint) bt Aaron Grant (Dundalk) 3/2
- James Fox (Portmarnock) bt Paul O’Hanlon (Carton House) 4/2
- Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) bt Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) 2H
- Robin Dawson (Tramore)bt Robert Cannon (Balbriggan) 1H
- Thomas Mulligan (Co. Louth) bt Eanna Griffin (Waterford) 4/3
- Conor Purcell (Portmarnock) bt Andrew McCormack (Castletroy) 3/2
- Stephen Watts (Cairndhu) bt Cathal Butler (Kinsale) 4/2
- Alex Gleeson (Castle) bt Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) 3/2
- Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) bt Nils Conway (Grange) 2/1;
- Evan Farrell (Ardee) bt Shaun Carter (The Royal Dublin) 2 holes;
- Devin Morley (Oughterard) bt Fergal O’Sullivan (Tralee) 1 hole;
- Rowan Lester (Hermitage) w/o Michael Ryan (New Ross);
- David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown) bt Paul McCarthy (Mallow) 3/2;
- Shane Hogan (Nenagh Golf Club) bt Marc Nolan (Delgany) 4/3;
- John Greene (Portmarnock) bt Ted Collins (Dun Laoghaire) 4/3;
- Paul McBride (The Island) bt Ryan Berkeley (Dun Laoghaire) 2 holes;
- Jake Whelan (Newlands) bt Eamonn Haugh (Castletroy) 2/1;
- Stuart Bleakley (Shandon Park) bt Stephen Coulter (Warrenpoint) 2/1;
- Michael Reddan (Limerick) bt Luke Donnelly (Kilkenny) 2/1;
- Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo) bt Liam Grehan (Mullingar) 2/1;
- Daniel Holland (Castle) bt Paul Carey (Nenagh) 1 hole;
- John Hickey (Cork) bt Gary Collins (Rosslare) 1 hole;
- Arthur Pierse (Tipperary) bt Eugene Smith (Ardee) 3/2;
- John Ross Galbraith (Knock) bt Paul O’Hara (Kilkenny) 1 hole;
- Colm Campbell Jnr (Warrenpoint) bt David Brady (Co. Sligo) 3/2;
- Aaron Grant (Dundalk) bt Gerard Dunne (Co. Louth) 1 hole;
- James Fox (Portmarnock) bt Jamie Sutherland (Galgorm Castle) 2/1;
- Paul O’Hanlon (Carton House) bt William Small (Tandragee) 1 hole;
- Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) bt Keith Egan (Carton House) 1 hole;
- Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) bt Declan Reidy (Co. Sligo) 1 hole;
- Robert Cannon (Balbriggan) bt Peter O’ Keeffe (Douglas) 6/4;
- Robin Dawson (Tramore) bt Cian Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) 3/2;
- Thomas Mulligan (Co. Louth) bt Cole Madey (USA) 5/4;
- Eanna Griffin (Waterford) bt Rob Brazill (Naas) 19th;
- Andrew McCormack (Castletroy) bt Marc Norton (Belvoir Park) 1 hole;
- Conor Purcell (Portmarnock) bt Dean McMahon (Castletroy) 4/3;
- Cathal Butler (Kinsale) bt Pat Murray (Limerick) 1 hole;
- Stephen Watts (Cairndhu) bt Greg Mungovan (Headfort Golf Club) 1 hole;
- Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) bt Jack McDonnell (Forrest Little) 5/4;
- Alex Gleeson (Castle) bt Robbie Pierse (Grange) 2/1.