Headfort’s Rory McNamara remained on course to make up for two semi-final defeats in the last three years when he added a 70 to his opening 74 to lead the qualifiers in the clubhouse in the Radisson Blu sponsored West of Ireland Championship at Rosses Point.
After the carnage of Friday, when just 42 players in the 123-strong field broke 80, there was a radical improvement in scoring as the wind eased and the tournament organisers set more accessible pin positions.
One of five overnight leaders on three over, McNamara took advantage of the easier conditions, recovering from two over after four holes to set the pace in the clubhouse in the battle to make the top 64 who will dispute the first matchplay round on Sunday
A birdie at the fifth helped him turn in 37 before he came hom in two under 33 with birdies at the 12th and 15th for one-stroke lead over Delgany’s Simon Bryan, who who added a 71 to his opening 74 for 145.
Irish Amateur Open champion Gavin Moynihan of The Island shot 71 for 146 while Dermot McElroy and McNamara’s Headfort clubmate Brian Casey firied best-of-the-day, three under 68s to share fourth with County Sligo’s Gary McDermott (74) on six over 148.
McNamara, who was born in Sligo, feels right at home at Rosses Point having won a Fred Daly Trophy with County Sligo in 2007.
‘I like the golf coursem I think the layout is very good and I like the greens because I always seem to putt well here,” the 23-year old international said. “I’m from here originally. I was born in Sligo and all my family is from Connacht - my mother is from Sligo and my father is from Galway.
“I moved when I was three but we have always come down here on holiday and I stay with family when I’m here, so it feels like home.”
As for his round, he was just happy to qualify with ease and head home to recharge his batteries having battled a dose of flu all week.
“The wind was more gusting today but the pins were nearer the back of greens, which gave you more room to work with,” said the 23-year old North of Ireland champion. “It was still tricky and you had to hit good shots but I always feel at home here.
“I played about the same as I did for the 74 in the first round but I had no doubles today and came home in two under which was very good.
“I bogeyed the first and three-putted the fourth but hit a drive and a nine iron to the fifth and two-putted for birdie there and got up and down with the putter from over the back of the 12th to get back to level.”
A six iron followed by a 30 foot putt yielded another birdie at the 15th and while he missed a slick five footer for birdie at the 18th, he was more than happy with his day’s work.
So too was fellow international McElroy, who had six birdies, one bogey and a double bogey at the 15th, where he was plugged in a greenside bunker and then three-putted as he followed and opening 80 with a joint best of the day 68.
“I just got the speed right on the greens today because I struggled with pace yesterday,” McElroy said. ” I made six birdies and lot of really good up and downs for par so I was happy with the way I played.”
McNamara’s fellow clubman Casey, who won last year’s Mullingar Scratch Trophy, matched McElroy by following an 80 with a 68 to join him on 148 with local hope Gary McDermott, another of the overnight leaders, who carded a second successive 74.
Castle’s Alex Gleesonhit a 73 for 149 while former winner Rory Leonard bounced back from an opening 80 with a one under 70 to join Leinster Youths champion Gary Collins (75-75) on 150.
However, it was more of a struggle for the other two joint overnight leaders as Ally Purdy shot a 77 for 151 and defending champion Harry Diamond a 78 for 152.
West of Ireland Amateur Open, Co Sligo (sponsored by Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa)
(Clubhouse scores at 18.35hrs. Top 64 to qualify for today’s first round of matchplay.)
144 R McNamara (Headfort) 74 70
145 S Bryan (Delgany) 74 71
146 G Moynihan (The Island) 75 71
148 D McElroy (Ballymena) 80 68, B Casey (Headfort) 80 68, G McDermott (Co. Sligo) 74 74
149 A Gleeson (Castle) 76 73
150 R Leonard (Banbridge) 80 70, G Collins (Rosslare) 75 75
151 A Purdy (Ballyclare) 74 77
152 A Hogan (Newlands) 80 72, R Cannon (Balbriggan) 78 74, H Featherstone (Ringway(UK)) 76 76, N Grant (Knock) 76 76, H Diamond (Belvoir Park) 74 78
153 R Busher (Salisbury & South Wilts(UK)) 80 73, J Hume (Rathsallagh) 78 75, R Dawson (Faithlegg) 78 75
154 G Hurley (West Waterford) 79 75, K McCarthy (Kinsale) 78 76, R Lester (Hermitage) 78 76, J McCormick (Styal(UK)) 78 76, G McKenna (Fortwilliam) 77 77
155 B McSweeney (The Royal Dublin) 80 75, R Whitson (Mourne) 79 76, M McAlpin (Royal Portrush) 77 78
156 S Dwyer (Lucan) 83 73, E Arthurs (Forrest Little) 82 74, M Wylie (Quinta da Ria (Esp)) 81 75, M Shanahan (Castlemartyr) 80 76, K Lynch (Skibbereen) 80 76, S McGlynn (Carton House) 80 76, E Smith (Ardee) 76 80
157 M Morrissey (Mount Wolseley) 81 76
158 P Flynn (Tramore) 83 75, C Fairweather (Knock) 83 75, C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) 82 76, A Kearney (Castlerock) 78 80
159 G Lappin (Belvoir Park) 81 78, A Wynne (Strandhill) 79 80
160 S Sloman (Taunton & Pickeridge(UK)) 85 75
161 M O’Rourke (Royal Tara) 84 77, A Morris (Belvoir Park) 82 79, S Ward (Co. Louth) 81 80, C Sharvin (Ardglass) 80 81, M Killen (Hessle GC (UK)) 79 82
162 D Callister (Mount Murray (IoM)) 85 77, L Hutchinson (Royal Dublin) 84 78, I Brennan (Greenore) 82 80
164 T Sloman (Taunton & Pickeridge(UK)) 86 78, I Kettyle (Rathmore) 82 82
165 S Coulter (Warrenpoint) 86 79
166 S Cannon (Loughrea) 81 85
167 J Galbraith (Whitehead) 82 85
171 J McLaughlin (Portumna) 88 83
172 A Harty (Dungarvan) 90 82
177 J O’Neill (Lee Valley) 91 86
NR L McMillan (Carton House) 83 NR