Damian Mooney played superbly for the first two days at Carton House. His reward was a hole in one and a place in the third round for just the second time in 17 attempts. Picture: Thos Caffrey / www.golffile.ieBig-hitting Belfast man Damian Mooney showed he really is a gentle giant when he made a hole-in-one in a sensational second round 68 and then shed tears of joy as he made the cut for just the second time in 17 attempts.

The bear-like 45-year old had missed the weekend every year bar 2003, when he finished tied for 56th at Portmarnock.

But after holing a six iron from 186 yard at the seventh, he picked up birdies at the 10th and 12th, three-putted the driveable 13th for par and the 14th for bogey but then birdied the last with tears in his eyes to make the weekend with ease on two under par.

“I played nicely and a hole in one helps,” a teary-eyed Mooney said of the ninth ace of his career. “And I got a wee bit emotional out there too. Why? Because I made the cut.

“I am a pro since 1989 and I have played in this since 1993 and only missed Ballybunion and Fota Island. It’s been 20 years so it’s nice to get the monkey of my back for only the second time.

“I have had lads coming down from Belfast for years to support me and they have never seen me play on a Saturday. And even all the stewards on all the tees seem to know my name.

“There is no real pressure involved but I know they are rooting for me much more than I am trying for them.”

Mooney was staying on site at the Carton House Hotel but checked out on Friday morning rather than tempt fate after his two over par 74 on Thursday.

“I was crying my eyes out coming up 18,” he revealed. “But I had plans and checked out of the hotel this morning. Maybe it’s an omen.”

Currently playing out of windy Ballyliffin Golf Club in Donegal, Mooney is hoping the breeze blows for the rest of the weekend.

“I will just out and do my best tomorrow as I did today,” he said. “The breeze suits me as I’m playing all my golf in Ballyliffin now and I know how to control the ball in the wind. If it stays like that I will be happy.”

Mooney has had European Tour status several times and plans to go back to the Q-School again this year in search of his dream.

“Guys like G-Mac and Rory do it week in week out and I suppose I have struggled to have opportunities,” he said.

“Maybe if I had more opportunities I would be able to make a mark. I am 45 now but I will be going back to Q-School again and I will keep trying. I love competing. And it’s nice to have some money coming in this week instead of just spending it.”