Hardy souls brave the autumnal conditons to watch Daniel Kovari and Mark Sheridan on the 19thChampionship favourite Pat Murray survived a late afternoon scare to keep his South of Ireland dream shining brightly on an eventful day at Lahinch that produced a stunning display by a Hungarian teenager and an even better one by a 16 year old Irishman who is running out of clean clothes.

Starting at the end of a long day, 39-year old Limerick international Murray played the front nine in two under par but still found himself two down to Brian Keenan from The Heath in the last match of the day.

Digging deep in his bid to win the championship closest to his heart, the Tipperary native won the 10th and 12 in par and then birdied the 13th and 14th to go two up.

And while he made his only bogey of the day at the 15th to see his lead cut to the minimum, he carded three solid pars to finish and clinch a last 16 clash with West Waterford left-hander Mark Shanahan, who edged a tight clash with Royal Dublin’s Gary McGrane at the last.

“That was tough,” said a relieved Murray. “Brian played some great golf and I’m very happy that I’m still going strong.”

The field got little respite all day from a stiff westerly breeze but while veteran Murray still looks like the man to beat, the young guns are starting to fire.

Irish Close champion Dara Lernihan is arguably the biggest name left in the top half of the draw and remains on course for a rare Close-South double last achieved by US Open winner Graeme McDowell in 2000.

As former winners Darren Crowe and Simon Ward made their exits, the 23-year old international from the Castle beat The Island’s Ivan Genockey 4 and 3 before mincing Kilkenny butcher Graham Nugent by 7 and 6 in the afternoon.

Lernihan will face the winner of the clash between Dubliner Mark Sheridan and Athlone’s Kelan McDonagh. But Sheridan was easily the happier of the two as he saw off the 17-year old Hungarian sensation Daniel Kovari at the 21st.

Four up at the turn, 36-year old Sheridan was forced into tie holes when Kovari won the 11th, 13th and 14th to reduce the deficit to one hole before extending the match by draining a 20 footer for birdie at the 18th.

However, the Old Conna man clinched his place in the last 16 thanks with a winning par at the tough third, where he hit a 200-yard rescue club from the rough into the heart of the green.

“Boy that was tough,” said Sheridan, who retired to the comfort of his camper van in the club car park. “He was like a pitbull terrier. He just wouldn’t let go.”

Kovari begins his marathon matchDespite three-putting from just off the green to hand Sheridan the match, Kovari was delighted to get his first taste of championship golf on an Irish links.

“It’s been a wonderful experience just to come to Ireland and play such a fantastic links course,” said the diminutive visitor. “Just to play on the same course where some of the greats have played, like Joe Carr, Padraig Harrington and even Phil Mickelson is a great honour.”

In the bottom half of the draw, defending champion Robbie Cannon of Laytown and Bettytown lost 3 and 2 to South County’s Shane McGlynn who now faces Skerries youngster Sam Devey.

Lahinch’s Thomas Keenan, the sole survivor home player from the host club, entered uncharted territory with a 3 and 2 win over Mallow’s Tim O’Mahony. But it will only get tougher for the home favourite.

If he beats Lucan’s Richard O’Donovan this morning, he faces a tough quarter-final against the winner of the stand-out clash between Shanahan and Murray.

The surprise package in the fifth round is 16-year old Milltown start Liam Harnett, who beat Cahir Park’s Emmett Leahy with a birdie at the 20th before hammering Naas ace Ross McCormack 7 and 6 in the fourth round.

The six foot four inch Irish Boys International, a son of Milltown club professional John Harnett, will take on Carlow’s John Greene, but his biggest problem is finding some clean clothes having exceeded his expectations by taking his “South” odyssey into a fourth day

“I’ve been hitting it nicely but to be honest I didn’t expect to get this far,” said the towering Dubliner. “I’m running out of clean golf shirts at this stage so hopefully my mum can come down with some fresh clothes.”

South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship, Lahinch

Third round
S Loftus (Lahinch) bt J Waldron (Muskerry) 3/2;
K McDonagh (Athlone/NUIM) bt N Goulding (Portmarnock) 1 hole;
M Sheridan (Old Conna) bt D McInerney (Lahinch) 2/1;
D Kovari (Old Lake, Hungary) bt R Kenny (Hermitage) 3/2;
S Moloney (Castletroy) bt T O’Flynn (Fota Island) 1 hole;
R Whitson (Mourne) bt G Dunne (Seapoint) 3/2;
G Nugent (Kilkenny) bt I O’Rourke (Cork) 19th;
D Lernihan (Castle) bt I Genockey (The Island) 4/3;
S Ward (Co Louth) bt M Morrissey (Mt Wolseley) 1 hole;
J Monaghan (The Island) bt J Foran (Thurles) 19th;
K Kennedy (Thurles) bt C McGrogan (Newbridge) 1 hole;
B Casey (Headfort) bt G Dillon (The Heath) 2/1;
D Crowe (Dunmurry) bt K Stack (Dungarvan) 2/1;
P O’Hara (Kilkenny) bt D Morgan (Mullingar) 2/1;
C Daly (Castletroy) bt J Hopkins (Skerries) 3/2;
G Smyth (Clonmel) bt S Ryan (Royal Dublin) 3/2;
R Cannon (Laytown & Bettystown) bt D Finn (Mallow) 3/2;
S McGlynn (South County) bt G Bohill (Co Louth) 19th;
S Devey (Skerries) bt G McGee (Malone) 2/1;
D Downie (Sutton) bt G Hurley (West Waterford) 1 up;
I Brennan (Greenore) bt G McDermott (Co Sligo) 20th;
J Greene (Carlow) bt M McGinley (Grange) 20th
R McCormack (Naas) bt K Dunne (New Ross) 1 up;
L Harnett (Milltown) bt E Leahy (Cahir Park) 20th;
T Neenan (Lahinch) bt M Buggy (Castlecomer) 2/1;
T O’Mahoney (Mallow) bt J Dillon (Headfort) 19th
C Martin (Kilkenny) bt R McCarthy (The Island) 2/1;
R O’Donovan (Lucan) bt E Haugh (Castletroy) 1 hole;
G McGrane (Royal Dublin) bt G O’Flaherty (Cork) 2 holes;
M Shanahan (West Waterford) bt D Ruddy (Thurles) 20th;
B Keenan (The Heath) bt J Hanby (Castle) 1 hole;
P Murray (Limerick) bt C Glynn (Carton House) 4/3.

Fourth round
McDonagh bt Loftus 2/1;
Sheridan bt Kovari 21st;
Whitson bt Moloney 4/3;
Lernihan bt Nugent 7/6;
Monaghan bt Ward 2 holes;
Casey bt Kennedy 19th;
O’Hara bt Crowe 1 hole;
Daly bt Smyth 1 hole;
McGlynn bt Cannon 3/2;
Devey bt Downie 3/2;
Greene bt Brennan 1 hole;
Harnett bt McCormack 7/6;
Neenan bt O’Mahony 3/2
O’Donovan bt Martin 3/2;
Shanahan bt McGrane 1 hole;
Murray bt Keenan 1 up.

Fifth round

(8:00) McDonagh v Sheridan;
(8:10) Whitson v Lernihan;
(8:20) Monaghan v Casey;
(8:30) O’Hara v Daly;
(8:40) McGlynn v Devey;
(8:50) Greene v Harnett;
(9:00) Neenan v O’Donovan;
(9:10) Shanahan v Murray.