Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell insists he has enough in the tank to clinch a rare double after surviving a fright to reach the semi-finals of the AIG Irish Amateur Close at Seapoint.
The 27 year old crushed Castlebar’s Declan Loftus 6 and 5 in the third round but had to hole a tricky seven footer on the final green to see off Cork’s Gary O’Flaherty by one hole in the quarter-finals having led by three holes with four to play.
After clinching his maiden title in the East of Ireland just last week, Campbell looks to be running out of steam and faces a tough match against Limerick veteran this morning.
But he’s confident he’s recovered sufficiently to go all the way over 36 holes again today having suffered from a cold early in the championship.
“I felt really, really strong this morning so I feel I’m almost back to full fitness,” said Campbell, who is bidding to do the East-Close double last achieved by Chris Selfridge in 2012.
“My energy levels are pretty good again now and while I can’t think too far ahead, the way I am playing, hopefully I will be lifting another trophy tomorrow afternoon.
“I know Pat has been about for a long time and he’s an experienced player but if I keep playing the way I am playing I will be hard to beat.
He faces a tough semi-final against Limerick’s Pat Murray, 42, who overcame a sore shoulder and a stiff neck before coming back from the dead twice in one day to give himself a chance of adding to his Irish Close and South of Ireland titles.
The Tipperary native holed a 20 footer for birdie at the 18th to beat Knock’s Colin Fairweather by one hole in the morning and then come back from two down with four to play to beat Eoin Arthurs with a conceded birdie at the 18th.
Birdies at the 15th and 16th saw Murray draw level and with Arthurs tugging a driver deep into the left rough, he hit a three wood down the middle and a five iron to the front edge, before putting up to two feet.
Arthurs missed the green right in three, pitched weakly and conceded after failing with an eight footer for par.
Insisting he can give Campbell food for thought today, Murray said: “I am struggling a bit with my shoulder still and have some tightness in my neck. It doesn’t affect me but it’s there.
“But I’m feeling good and the game is solid, so while Colm is a great player and playing well, we’ll have a nice rest tonight and go tomorrow.”
In the other semi-final, 20-year old former Boys international John Ross Galbraith from Whitehead will face 27-year old Stackstown left-hander Richard Bridges.
Bridges came back from two down after 14 holes to beat leading qualifier Stuart Grehan of Tullamore by one hole.
Bridges produced a Murray-like comeback to beat leading qualifier Stuart Grehan of Tullamore by one hole, justifying his decision not to join the 11 high profile absentees in Seapoint at the clashing St Andrews Links Trophy at the weekend.
After beating Dungarvan’s Alan Thomas by six and five in the third round, Bridges came out after a short suspension of play due to the threat of lighting he found himself three down after 10 holes to the talent Grehan.
“I was thinking, ‘I don't have much of a chance from here, and have to start hitting some shots’, Bridges said. He did.
He still trailed by two holes with four to play but the Tullamore man ran out of steam after a series of tough matches and Bridges birdied the short 15th from three feet, claimed the 16th in par and then birdied the par-three 17th with a nine iron to two feet to go ahead for the first time before closing out the match with a par at the last.
“I’m looking to win it now,” Bridges said. “That’s why I pulled out of St Andrews. I thought I had a great chance of winning the Close because the field this week is 10 players light of a normal strong field.
“I’d never made it to the quarters before and I have never played Interpros for Leinster, though I have been travelling reserve. But you have to break through sometime, so I will be going out all guns blazing tomorrow morning."
As for Galbraith, he was two under in beating Rosslare's Gary Collins 3 and 1 but had to dig deep to beat Carton House’s David Carey by the same margin in the afternoon.
Five up after nine, he lost the 10th and then was penalised with a loss of hole at the 11th for removing a loose impediment in a fairway bunker.
He ended up being pegged back to just one up with four to play but won the 15th in par to go two up again before closing out a hard-fought 3 and 1 win.
“The penalty didn’t affect me,” said Galbraith, who won the Faldo Series Under 21 title earlier this year. “I just emptied the tank. But I’ll be happy if I win this week.
“I’m hoping to make the Ulster team for the Interpros and if I win this week, I’ll secure my place. I just need the putter to click.”
AIG IRISH AMATEUR CLOSE CHAMPIONSHIP, SEAPOINT GC (PAR 72)
WEDNESDAY - SEMIFINALS
(0830) Pat Murray (Limerick) v Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint)
(0840) John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) v Richard Bridges (Stackstown)
FINAL 1.30 PM
QUARTERFINALS - TUESDAY
Pat Murray (Limerick) bt Eoin Arthurs (Forrest Little) 1 hole
Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) bt Gary O'Flaherty (Cork) 1 hole
John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) bt David Carey (Carton House) 3/1
Richard Bridges (Stackstown) bt Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) 1 hole
E Arthurs (Forrest Little) bt G Lenehan (Portmarnock) 1 hole
P Murray (Limerick) bt C Fairweather (Knock) 1 hole
G O'Flaherty (Cork) bt S Healy (Claremorris) 4/3
C Campbell (Warrenpoint) bt D Loftus (Castlebar) 6/5
D Carey (Carton House) bt S Watts (Cairndhu) 3/2
JR Galbraith (Whitehead) bt G Collins (Rosslare) 3/1
R Bridges (Stackstown) bt A Thomas (Dungarvan) 6/5
S Grehan (Tullamore) bt I O'Rourke (The Royal Dublin) 21st
1325 — Limerick's Pat Murray made a miraculous birdie at the 18th, holing a slick 18 footer to beat Knock's Colin Fairweather one up to reach this afternoon's quarter-finals in the AIG Irish Amateur Close at Seapoint.
All square playing the 18th, he drove into the left rough alongside Fairweather but while the Ulsterman played a magnificent recovery just short of the green, Murray pulled his second into more deep rough but played a fine recovery and holed the putt for an unlikely four.
Fairweather pitched to 12 feet but his putt to force extra holes just slid by.
Murray now faces Forrest Little's Eoin Arthurs, who beat Portmarnock's Geoff Lenehan by one hole with Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell, winner of the East of Ireland just last week. through to face Cork's Gary O'Flaherty in the other quarterfinal in the top half.
Campbell beat Castlebar's Declan Loftus 6 and 5 while O'Flaherty beat Claremorris' Stephen Healy 4 and 3.
In the bottom half of the draw, David Carey from Carton House beat Cairndhu's Stephen Watts 3 and 2 and will face Whitehead's John Ross Galbraith, who beat Rosslare's Gary Collins 3 and 1.
Stackstown's Richard Bridges beat Dungarvan's Alan Thomas 6 and 5 and will play leading qualifier Stuart Grehan of Tullamore, who beat Royal Dublin's Ian O'Rourke at the 21st with a par.
Grehan was two down after 12 holes but battled back to win the 13th and 14th and halved the 15th to be all square before winning the 16th to go one up.
O'Rourke then birdied the 18th to take the match into extra holes. But after halves in par at the 19th and 20th, Grehan was conceded his par at the 21st and looked on as O'Rourke missed an eight footer to extend the match.