It was a day for old guns with 42-year old dreams and young guns who play like there’s no tomorrow. In short, it was a classic Lahinch day that saw 63-year old Arthur Pierse plot his way into the last 16, Pat Murray and Chris Selfridge bow out and a host of former winners and ambitious youngsters muscle their way through to the penultimate day.
Pierse, a former Walker Cup player and four-time championship winner showed all his old ball-striking prowess to oust two talented young players and train his sights on another in the Clare Coast Hotels sponsored South of Ireland Amateur Open.
The 63-year old from Tipperary reckons he made it to five semi-finals of the “South” during his heyday, famously losing to Mick Morris on the 18th in a controversial last four clash in 1980 when he discovered he had 15 clubs in his bag as he played Klondyke.
The refereeing mayhem that resulted is best recounted in the bar — first he was told he was disqualified, then he was given two hole penalties for each hole he’d played! — as it is the stuff of “South” lore.
Two more wins today could leave him on the cusp of that elusive appearance in a final and after beating Forrest Little’s Caolan Kennedy 3 and 2 before seeing off Munster interprovincial John Hickey of Cork on the 18th in the afternoon, he has every reason to have high hopes as he takes on 22-year old Conor O’Rourke of Naas in the last 16 this morning.
“I’ve been coming here since around 1972,” said the 2007 British Seniors Amateur Open champion after getting up and down from bunkers at the 17th and 18th to beat Hickey one up. “Some of those kids, their fathers weren’t event born.”
In times past, Pierse might have missed the three footer for a half in par at the 17th or the four and a half footer he faced to win the match with a half in birdie fours at the 18th. Not this version of Arthur Pierse.
One of the best ball-strikers to emerge from the amateur game here, he never found Lahinch to be a course that suited his game until the recent changes were carried out.
“You could hit it anywhere and just freewheel your way around — there was no rough,” he said. “But you get a reward for hitting it straight here now. In fact, I didn’t miss a fairway in the 34 holes I played today.”
Can he dare to dream of victory at the age of 63?
“Tom Watson has no right to nearly win the British Open either,” he said with a grin. “Can I got on? If my legs are okay tomorrow, I can.”
As for his putting, his Achilles’ Heel in years gone by, he said: “I am better on the short ones now. If I could have putt 30 years ago the way I putt from five feet now, I would have won a lot more than I did.”
O’Rourke has come on in leaps and bounds this year, reaching the last 16 of the West before earning his Leinster senior debut at The Island last week. And he showed no mercy to Greg Mungovan, who had dealt Portmarnock’s Geoff Lenehan a disappointing defeat by one hole in the morning, winning 6 and 4.
But there are plenty of other dangerous customers in the top half of the draw.
Waterford’s Eanna Griffin beat Marc Boucher 5 and 3 and now takes on Carton House’s Keith Egan.
Two former winners are also on a quarter-final collision course with 2011 champion Stephen Walsh taking on Stuart Bleakley after good wins over Mark Mullen and knock’s Colin Fairweather.
Robbie Cannon, the winner in 2009, meets Edmondstown’s Barry Daly having produced some of his best ball-striking to beat Athenry’s David Byrne and Laytown and Bettystown’s David Foy by 3 and 2. And if it comes to stamina and experience, the Balbriggan man won't be found wanting there.
In the bottom half of the draw, Powerscourt’s Andrew Magee — he beat Cian Daly who aced the Dell with a six iron for his sixth career hole in one — faces Esker Hills’ Alan Lowry, who took a leaf out of his older brother Shane’s book of short game genius to force extra holes against Delgany’s Simon Bryan and then beat him on the 21st.
The 21-year old was one down playing the 17th, where he saw Bryan hole a 17 footer for par there and duly hole a 12 footer for a half to take the match to the last.
He was in trouble there too, up against the wall left of the green with no backswing as Bryan stood 10 feet away from the cup, sizing up a birdie chance.
But he manufactured a backswing of sorts, chopped his third straight up and at the pin and watched as it came up a roll short of going in for a three, much to the delight of his dad Brendan.
Unsurprisingly after that dramatic blow, Bryan missed his 10 footer for the match and then had to look on as Lowry holed a slippery three footer for a half at the 19th and a three to four footer for par at the 20th before beating him with a par at the 21st.
“It’s just one of those days when you come off the golf course and wonder what just happened,” said a delighted Lowry, who may have some support from brother Shane on Tuesday morning when faces Magee at 8.40 am.
Portmarnock’s Darragh Coghlan, another up and coming player, had clear cut wins over Roy Connolly and Luke Robinson to set up a last 16 meeting with Castle’s Alex Gleeson, who lost to eventual champion Simon Ward in the semi-finals last year.
Another player who teed it up in the Interpros last week, Gleeson was in superb form as evidenced by his opponent Chris Carroll of Shandon Park, who was a couple under par and wondering what hit him when they shook hands on the 18th.
The heavy fallers came in the last quarter with Cork Golf Club’s Ian O’Rourke (now playing out Royal Dublin) beating Munster team mate Pat Murray two up to set up a fifth round match with Ballybunion’s Ed Stack, who defeated the promising Jordan Hood from Galgorm Castle one up.
Murray felt “flat” on the front nine and paid the price, finding himself four down after nine to the 23-year old.
He threw three birdies at his opponent coming down the stretch but after getting back to one down with three to play thanks to a 25-foot bomb for birdie at the 15th, he couldn’t convert winning chances on the 16th and 17th and bowed out to a player who gave little away.
“I was probably a bit flat through the front nine and he played well,” said Murray, who bogeyed the first and followed up with eight pars to leave himself behind the eight-ball.
The winner of the O'Rourke-Stack match will play Limerick’s Michael O’Kelly — a 2 and 1 winner over Tiarnan McLarnon of Massereene — or Royal Dublin’s Richard Knightly, who ended the dreams of North of Ireland champion Selfridge with a clear cut four and three win.
South of Ireland 2014
LAHINCH GOLF CUB
SPONSORED BY CLARE COAST HOTELS
JULY 26-30 2014
TUESDAY 29TH — FIFTH ROUND TEE-TIMES
08:00 Conor O’Rourke (Naas) v Arthur Pierse (Tipperary)
08:10 Eanna Griffin (Waterford) v Keith Egan (Carton House)
08:20 Stephen Walsh (Portmarnock) v Stuart Bleakley (Shandon Park)
08:30 Barry Daly (Edmondstown) v Robert Cannon (Balbriggan)
08:40 Andrew Magee (Powerscourt) v Alan Lowry (Esker Hills)
08:50 Darragh Coghlan (Portmarnock) v Alex Gleeson (Castle)
09:00 Ian O’Rourke (The Royal Dublin) v Ed Stack (Ballybunion)
09:10 Michael O’Kelly (Limerick) v Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin)
Conor O’Rourke (Naas) bt Greg Mungovan (Headfort) 6/4
Arthur Pierse (Tipperary) bt John Hickey (Cork) 1 up
Eanna Griffin (Waterford) bt Marc Boucher (Carton House) 5/3
Keith Egan (Carton House) bt Fergal Deasy (Cork) 3/2
Stephen Walsh (Portmarnock) bt Mark Mullen (Wexford) 2/1
Stuart Bleakley (Shandon Park) bt Michael Ryan (New Ross) 2/1
Barry Daly (Edmondstown) bt Jake Whelan (Newlands) 19th
Robbie Cannon (Balbriggan) bt David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown) 3/2
Andrew Magee (Powerscourt) bt Cian Daly (Castletroy) 1 up
Alan Lowry (Esker Hills) bt Simon Bryan (Delgany) 21st
Darragh Coghlan (Portmarnock) bt Luke Robinson (Bundoran) 5/3
Alex Gleeson (Castle) bt Chris Carroll (Shandon Park) 2 up
Ian O’Rourke (The Royal Dublin) bt Pat Murray (Limerick) 2 up
Ed Stack (Ballybunion) bt Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) 1 up
Michael O’Kelly (Limerick) bt Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) 2/1
Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin) bt Chris Selfridge (Moyola Park) 4/3.
Greg Mungovan (Headfort) bt Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) 1 up
Conor O’Rourke (Naas) bt Gavin Young (Birr) 21st
Arthur Pierse (Tipperary) bt Caolan Kennedy (Forrest Little) 3/2
John Hickey (Cork) bt William Herring (Keith Hills Country Club) 3/2
Eanna Griffin (Waterford) bt Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) 3/2
Marc Boucher (Carton House) bt Eddie Power (Kilkenny) 1 hole
Keith Egan (Carton House) bt David O’Driscoll (Ballybunion) 4/3
Fergal Deasy (Cork) bt Ed Hickey (Shannon) 4/3
Stephen Walsh (Portmarnock) bt Colin Fairweather (Knock) 19th
Mark Mullen (Wexford) bt Daniel Holland (Castle) 19th
Stuart Bleakley (Shandon Park) bt Daniel Coyle (Co Louth) 5/4
Michael Ryan (New Ross) bt Keith Murphy (Charlesland) 1 hole
Barry Daly (Edmondstown) bt Stephen Loftus (Lahinch) 2/1
Jake Whelan (Newlands) bt Shane Hogan (Nenagh) 4/3
David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown) bt Paul Burke (Mullingar) 2/1
Robbie Cannon (Balbriggan) bt David Byrne (Athenry) 3/2
Cian Daly (Castletroy) bt Ryan McKinstry (Cairndhu) 3/2
Andrew Magee (Powerscourt) bt Declan Loftus (Castlebar) 6/4
Simon Bryan (Delgany) bt Tony Cleary (Dromoland Castle) 3/2
Alan Lowry (Esker Hills) bt Thomas Neenan (Lahinch) 6/5
Luke Robinson (Bundoran) bt Jamie Sutherland (Galgorm Castle) 1 up
Darragh Coghlan (Portmarnock) bt Roy Connolly (Palmerstown Stud) 2 up
Chris Carroll (Shandon Park) bt Steffan O’Hara (Co. Sligo) 3/2
Alex Gleeson (Castle) bt Thomas Fay (Rush) 5/3
Pat Murray (Limerick) bt Sean Doyle (Athlone) 5/3
Ian O’Rourke (The Royal Dublin) bt Michael Buggy (Castlecomer) 2/1
Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) bt Shane McGlynn (Carton House) 20th
Ed Stack (Ballybunion) bt Paul Coughlan (Moate) 3/2
Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) bt William Russell (Clandeboye) 3/1
Michael O’Kelly (Limerick) bt Shaun O’Connor (Luttrellstown Castle) 5/4
Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin) bt Gavin Smyth (Clonmel) 20th
Chris Selfridge (Moyola Park) bt David O’Donovan (Muskerry) 1 up