Double major winner Chris Selfridge will bid to put his early summer struggles behind him when he takes on West Waterford and NUI Maynooth star Gary Hurley in dawn duel for the North of Ireland Amateur Open at Royal Portrush.
The 21-year old University of Toledo player returned to Ireland for the amateur season but missed the cut in his defence of the East of Ireland title at Baltray (83 72) and then lost in the second round of the “Close” in Connemara, where he was also the defending champion.
He then missed the cut in the Amateur Championship at Royal Cinque Ports and Princes before showing signs a return to from in the Brabazon Trophy at Formby, where he finished 28th.
A change of putter appears to have worked wonders for the Moyola Park man, whose march to the final has been impressive since he scraped into the matchplay stages as the 57th of 64 qualifiers on 147 (76-71).
Wins over Jamie Richardson (Royal Portrush) 2/1 and Ryan Symington (Lisburn) 4/3 duly followed before he showed real form with a 6 and 5 win over former North of Ireland champion Michael Sinclair in the third round.
He then caused the biggest surprise of the championship so far with a 3 and 2 demolition of leading qualifier and Brabazon Trophy runner up Brian Casey from Headfort in the quarter-finals, racing four up through 13 holes before closing out victory at the 16th.
In the semi-finals he put Irish Close champion Cormac Sharvin to the sword by 3 and 2, losing just two holes along the way.
He will certainly have his work cut out against 20 year old Hurley, who made his Palmer Cup debut for Europe recently.
The West Waterford man accounted for Alan Stevens, Daniel Vaughand Simon Miskelly in the first three rounds before cruising to two big wins on the Dunluce Links on Friday.
After an early morning delay for fog, he beat Galgorm Castle’s Michael Reid 6 and 5 and then handed Geoff Lenehan the same treatment.
The Portmarnock man, who also reached the semi-finals last year, is knocking on the door for an Ireland call up and can do his cause no harm when he helps Munster defend the Interprovincial Matches at Lee Valley later this month.
His 3 and 2 win over the up and coming Stuart Grehan from Tullamore was impressive but he had no answer to Hurley, who won four holes in a row from the second to go four up before turning the screw by winning the eight and ninth to be six up at the turn.
Leinster named its team Interprovincial team yesterday with Irish Amateur Open champion Robbie Cannon (Balbriggan) joined by Brian Casey (Headfort), Paul Dunne (Greystones), Stuart Grehan (Tullamore), Jack Hume (Naas), Rory McNamara (Headfort), Gavin Moynihan (The Island) and Richard O’Donovan (Lucan). Richard Bridges (Stackstown) is the non-travelling reserve.
North of Ireland 2013, Royal Portrush (Sponsored by Cathedral Eye)
Final - Saturday 13th July
(7.0) Christopher Selfridge (Moyola Park) v Gary Hurley (West Waterford/NUIM)
Christopher Selfridge (Moyola Park) bt Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass) 3/2
Gary Hurley (West Waterford/NUIM) bt Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) 6/5
Christopher Selfridge (Moyola Park) bt Brian Casey (Headfort) 3/2
Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass) bt Harry Diamond (Belvoir Park) 1 hole
Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) bt Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) 3/2
Gary Hurley (West Waterford/NUIM) bt Michael Reid (Galgorm Castle) 6/5