Walton sweeps up with broomhandle

From Brian Keogh at Lahinch

Family links paid dividends in the fifth round of the McNamara sponsored South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship as men from opposite sides of the Atlantic cruised into the last 16 at Lahinch.

The Island’s Brendan Walton ousted Irish Close champion Shane Lowry using some matchplay guile and a long-putting style he picked up from his Ryder Cup playing uncle Philip, while New Yorker Brendan Treacy relied on his links roots to see off Ballybunion’s John Daniel Guiney on a scorching July afternoon.

Walton might only be 20 years old but he revealed that has been using the belly putter since he was just eight after watching his famous uncle at close quarters. And it proved to be a wise choice of weapon as he putted beautifully to beat Esker Hills man Lowry 3&2 in one of the shocks of the day.

“I play with my uncle Philip nearly every week and he gives me bits of advice,” Walton revealed after he had beaten his friend and fellow UCD team mate. “In matchplay he told me, ‘You have to bite them, don't show any mercy’, and I knew I had to do that against a player like Shane.

“Coming up the last four holes he is capable of throwing four birdies at you and I was only three up after making a mess of the 14th. So I decided I just had to get a half on 15 to go dormie and then try to hit a good tee shot into the 16th.”

Walton did exactly that, drilling a three-iron into the heart of the 15th before finding the back fringe with a seven-iron at the 195-yard 16th and then lagging a delicate putt stone dead to close out the match.

A native of Malahide, Walton has been brought up on links golf. But so too has 19-year-old Treacy, who is a member of the historic National Golf Links of America at Southampton on Long Island, one of the founding clubs of the US Golf Association and a near neighbour of Shinnecock Hills.

The plus four-handicapper will face Dunmurry’s Darren Crowe, the beaten finalist for the past two years, in this morning’s fifth round thanks to his 2&1 victory over Kerryman Guiney.

And he revealed that he is no stranger to victory at Lahinch, where his father is an overseas life member, having won the JB Carr Junior Tournament here in 2004.

“The National and Lahinch are both pure links,” said a relaxed Treacy as he sipped a beer from a plastic container outside the clubhouse. “The idea is the same: Keep it under the wind and make putts. My philosophy is to go out and have fun, hit fairways and greens and don't give your opponent a hole. You gave got to beat them with birdies.”

Clare hurler Davy Fitzgerald failed to extend his dream run in the championship when he was beaten 5&4 by veteran Arthur Pierse in the morning, while defending champion Simon Ward had to come from two down at the turn to beat Kilkenny’s Graham Nugent on the 17th in the afternoon.