East of Ireland champion Colm Campbell dodged a bullet to keep his hopes of a rare double alive in the AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship at sun kissed Seapoint.
The Warrenpoint man was cruising into the last 16 when he led Skibbereen's Kieran Lynch by three holes with six to play on another day of testing 20mph southerly winds on a course that has drawn much praise from the players.
But he then lost four of the next five holes to go to the 18th one down, watched Lynch miss a four foot par putt for the match after a tactically poor second put him in trouble and eventually got through with a winning par at the 22nd after Lynch had seen a 12 footer for the match burn the edge at the 21st.
Campbell sighed: “I am just delighted to get over the line. Those last few holes need a lot of attention and I’m starting to make a few tired swings coming in.
"But I am still in the tournament and I still have a chance to win so I'll head home to recharge the batteries for tomorrow.”
Leading qualifier Stuart Grehan from Tullamore was also forced to dig deep to survive.
In the morning he was three up with three to go but only beat Mount Wolseley's Mark Morrissey by one hole.
Then in the afternoon he was in control against the impressive Warrenpoint man Paul Reavey but ended up being forced to hole a 35 footer for birdie on the 18th for another nerve-shattering one-hole win.
“It was a long day for me today with 36 holes,” said a relieved Grehan at the finish. “I had two sticky matches but it was nice to get the wins.”
Grehan is in the bottom half of the draw and must now be fancied to go all the way after the highly fancied Sligo man Gary McDermott of Carton House beaten by one hole by some excellent golf by fellow clubman David Carey.
While all this was going on, Limerick’s Pat Murray had a tight one hole win over Portmarnock’s Jack Pierse in the morning before crushing 2002 champion John McGinn of Laytown and Bettystown by 7 and 6.
"I have a bit of a bug and I'm feeling a bit sluggish but the game was good,” said 42 year old Murray, champion in 2009. “I played really, really well.
"I made a few birdies early at the third, fifth and seventh and was six up after nine. Birdied the 12th and that was that.
"It's a new day tomorrow. It was pleasant today compared to Sunday. Windy but not as cold. The big stick came out today and it makes the course a lot easier if you are driving it well. And I am driving well.”
Murray will face Knock’s Colin Fairweather, who got a string of tips on how to play the course from his father, PGA professional Gordon Fairweather, during the practice rounds.
In the morning round, 23-year old Fairweather faced fellow Knock man Michael Sinclair. But the former East and North of Ireland champion stubbled on the greens and went down by 5 and 3.
In the afternoon, Fairweather then accounted from Elm Park’s Kieran Cummings by 6 and 5 with another impressive display of ball-striking and course management.
"I've played Pat before and he is a very experienced player but to be honest I just play the course rather than the man,” Fairweather said.
"If you are around about level or one under, you are going to win matches. I'll just stick to my game plan which is to position myself off the tee, get yardages and try not to short side yourself.”
Four Ulstermen made it through to the last 16 with Campbell and Fairweather joined by Cairndhu’s Stephen Watts and Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith, who both won on the 19th in the morning before cruising through their afternoon matches.
The bottom half of the draw looks wide open with a mixture of youth and experience battling to make Tuesday afternoon's quarter-finals.
While Carey and young Cairndhu talent Watts is a battle of two untested players at this level, the winner will face another young player in Galbraith or Rosslare's Gary Collins.
The heavyweight clash is the meeting of the experienced Dungarvan swinger Alan Thomas and the classy and ubiquitous Stackstown left-hander Richard Bridges, who has been threatening to make a championship breakthrough for some time.
The winner of that one will face a tough quarter-final match agains the victor in the encounter between Royal Dublin's Ian O'Rourke and leading qualifier Grehan.
AIG SPONSORED IRISH AMATEUR CLOSE CHAMPIONSHIP, SEAPOINT GC (PAR 72)
Third round draw - Tuesday
(8.00) G Lenehan (Portmarnock) v E Arthurs (Forrest Little)
(8.10) C Fairweather (Knock) v P Murray (Limerick)
(8.20) S Healy (Claremorris) v G O'Flaherty (Cork)
(8.30) D Loftus (Castlebar) v C Campbell (Warrenpoint)
(8.40 ) D Carey (Carton House) v S Watts (Cairndhu)
(8.50) JR Galbraith (Whitehead) v G Collins (Rosslare)
(9.00) A Thomas (Dungarvan) v R Bridges (Stackstown)
(9.10) I O'Rourke (The Royal Dublin) v S Grehan (Tullamore)
SECOND ROUND - Monday afternoon
G Lenehan (Portmarnock) bt J Hickey (Cork) 2/1
E Arthurs (Forrest Little) bt J Fox (Portmarnock) 2/1
C Fairweather (Knock) bt K Cummings (Elm Park) 6/5
P Murray (Limerick) bt J McGinn (Laytown & Bettystown) 7/6
S Healy (Claremorris) bt J Gourley (Shandon Park) 8/6
G O'Flaherty (Cork) bt G Dunne (Co. Louth) 2/1
D Loftus (Castlebar) bt B Ronan (Co. Louth) 2/1
C Campbell (Warrenpoint) bt K Lynch (Skibbereen) 22nd
D Carey (Carton House) bt G McDermott (Carton House) 1 hole
S Watts (Cairndhu) bt G Carew (Edenderry) 4/3
JR Galbraith (Whitehead) bt P O'Brien (Co. Louth) 6/5
G Collins (Rosslare) bt C Crowley (Woodbrook) 8/6
A Thomas (Dungarvan) bt B Anderson (The Royal Dublin) 2/1
R Bridges (Stackstown) bt A Magee (Powerscourt) 3/1
I O'Rourke (The Royal Dublin) bt R Williamson (Holywood) 1 hole
S Grehan (Tullamore) bt P Reavey (Warrenpoint) 1 hole.
FIRST ROUND - Monday morning
G Lenehan (Portmarnock) bt A Lowry (Esker Hills) 19th;
J Hickey (Cork) bt K Stack (Dungarvan) 2/1
J Fox (Portmarnock) bt R McKinstry (Cairndhu) 7/6
E Arthurs (Forrest Little) bt P McKeever (Castle) 1 hole
C Fairweather (Knock) bt M Sinclair (Knock) 5/3;
K Cummings (Elm Park) bt B Best (Rathmore) 3/2
J McGinn (Laytown & Bettystown) bt C Butler (Kinsale) 5/3;
P Murray (Limerick) bt J Pierse (Portmarnock) 1 hole;
S Healy (Claremorris) bt K LeBlanc (The Island) 1 hole;
J Gourley (Shandon Park) bt J Lyons (Galway) 3/2
G Dunne (Co. Louth) bt T McLarnon (Massereene) 6/5
G O'Flaherty (Cork) bt A Wilson (Portmarnock) 3/2;
D Loftus (Castlebar) bt J Monaghan (The Royal Dublin) 3/2;
B Ronan (Co. Louth) bt L O'Hara (Athenry) 3/2;
K Lynch (Skibereen) v R Lester (Hermitage) on the 19th;
C Campbell (Warrenpoint) bt C Kenny (Royal Curragh) 2/1;
G McDermott (Carton House) bt A McCloy (Ballymena) 1 hole
D Carey (Carton House) bt G Mungovan (Headfort) 5/3
G Carew (Edenderry) bt E Griffin (Waterford) 4/2
S Watts (Cairndhu) bt D Holland (Castle) 19th
JR Galbraith (Whitehead) bt M McClean (Balmoral) 19th
P O'Brien (Co. Louth) bt K Egan (Carton House) 2 holes
C Crowley (Woodbrook) bt D Reidy (Co. Sligo) 3/2
G Collins (Rosslare) bt S O'Connor (Luttrellstown Castle) 4/3.
B Anderson (The Royal Dublin) bt G Lappin (Belvoir Park) 5/4;
A Thomas (Dungarvan) bt S Cullen (Slieve Russell) 4/3;
A Magee (Powerscourt) bt D Byrne (Athenry) 20th
R Bridges (Stackstown) bt I Spillane (Mallow) 1 hole
I O'Rourke (The Royal Dublin) bt T O'Driscoll (Ring of Kerry) 2/1
R Williamson (Holywood) bt G McGrane (The Royal Dublin) 1 hole
P Reavey (Warrenpoint) bt S Walsh (Portmarnock) 1 hole
S Grehan (Tullamore) bt M Morrissey (Mount Wolseley) 1 hole
1700 — The top half of the draw promises some fireworks on Tuesday as a string of contenders for the AIG Irish Amateur Close title cruised into the last 16.
Geoff Lenehan hit his approach stiff on the 19th to beat Esker Hills Alan Lowry in the morning before seeing off Cork's John Hickey 2 and 1 and will now face former East of Ireland winner Eoin Arthurs, who beat James Fox 2 and 1, in the opening match in the third round.
Big-hitting Colin Fairweather from Knock crushed Keagan Cummings of Elm Park 6 and 5 in the afternoon after seeing off an out of sorts club mate Michael Sinclair 5 and 2 in the morning. But the 23-year old now faces a tough match with the 2009 Close champion, 42-year old Pat Murray of Limerick.
Seeking his third "major", Murray had a tight, one hole win of Portmarnock's Jack Pierse in round one but despite not feeling 100 percent, he had too much firepower for McGinn, running out a 7 and 6 winner in the afternoon.
Claremorris' Stephen Healy was also in a hurry in round two as he crush Shandon Park's Jonathan Gourley 8 and 6 to meet the winner of the match between Cork's Gary O'Flaherty and Co Louth's Gerard Dunne.
As for the leading qualifier Stuart Grehan of Tullamore, he was three up with three to play against Mount Wolseley's Mark Morrissey but lost the 16 and 17th to birdies to go down the 18th with the narrowest of leads.
Morrissey chipped to around six feet in three but missed the birdie putt to take Grehan up the 19th.
East of Ireland winner Colm Campbell was a 2 and 1 winner over Colum Kenny in the morning and three up after 12 holes against Kieran Lynch of Skibbereen.
1200 — The first matchplay round of the AIG Irish Amateur Close is underway at a sun kissed Seapoint with early wins for Geoff Lenehan, John Hickey, James Fox, Eoin Arthurs, Colin Fairweather, John McGinn and Pat Murray.
Lenehan beat Esker Hills' Alan Lowry at the 19th and now plays Hickey while Arthurs takes on Fairweather who beat fellow clubman Michael Sinclair, who was struggling on the greens, 5 and 3.
McGinn, the 2002 champion will face Murray, winner in 2009 in a battle of the veterans.
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