Impressive Hurley closes in on Spanish Amateur title
Gary Hurley. Picture  Pat Cashman

Gary Hurley. Picture Pat Cashman

Gary Hurley hit some key shots under pressure to beat European champion Ashley Chesters 3 and 2 and qualify for Sunday's final of the Spanish Amateur Open Championship at Sherry Golf in Jerez.

The 22 year old Maynooth University and West Waterford player beat English world No 24 Chesters 3 and 2 and will face Jeroen Krietemeijer in the decider after the Dutchman beat Spain's Ivan Cantero at the 19th.

Hurley saw off Austria's Markus Maukner 3 and 2 in this morning's quarter-finals and has yet to be taken beyond the 16th in any of his four matches so far.

His win over Chesters also sends out a clear message to the selectors in a Walker Cup year. 

Matchplay scores

Semi-final hole by hole

Winner of the European Individual Amateur in 2013 and 2014, Chesters beat Naas' Jack Hume — another Walker Cup candidate — 2 and 1 in his quarter-final and made a fast start to the semi-finals, winning the first and second in par to go two up in Hurley.

The Munster man won the third with a par five, halved the short fourth in birdie twos and then won the par-five fifth with a par to square the match after Chesters had three-putted.

All square playing the ninth, Hurley drove into a hazard but took a penalty drop and hit a nine-i ron to 12 feet and holed the putt for a half in four to turn all flat.

Chesters three-putted the 11th for a bogey six and Hurley then birdied the par-three 12th to go two up. 

Hurley then chipped in for his par four at the 15th to remain two up and closed out the match when Chesters found water at the 16th and took six to his birdie three.

Winner of the R&A Scholars Tournament in 2013 and runner up in that year's North of Ireland, Hurley made the cut in the Irish Open at Fota Island last year and helped Ireland win the Home Internationals and reach the final of the European Amateur Team Championships.

In the other semi-final, Krietemeijer beat Cantero at the 19th, winning the 18th in par to force sudden death and then taking the win with a par four at the 19th.

The 36-hole final begins at 8.30am local time with the second 18 from 1.30pm. 

Hurley is bidding to become the fifth Irish winner of the title following Philip Walton (1981), Michael Quirke (1987), Darren Clarke (1990) and Reeve Whitson (2013)

Irish winners of the Spanish Amateur Championship for the Copa del Rey - (Click here for all past winners)

  • 1981 Torrequebrada, Philip Walton beat J. López Moreno 3 and 2
  • 1987 Aloha, Michael Quirke beat O. Carrisson 
  • 1990 El Saler, Darren Clarke beat Sven Struver 7 and 5
  • 2013 La Manga, Reeve Whitson beat Neil Raymond 4 and 3