Castle’s Daniel Holland kept his hopes of an international call up alive when he ended veteran Arthur Pierse’s dream of South of Ireland glory before seeing off Sean Flanagan to make Sunday’s semi-finals at Lahinch.
The 26-year old Dubliner knows he must win his first amateur title to force to the Irish selectors to consider him for next month’s Home Internationals.
But after beating 65-year old Pierse and North of Ireland winner Flanagan by identical 5 and 4 margins, he’s highly fancied to go all the way and lift his first major.
Beaten in the final of the West of Ireland Championship at Easter, former Mullingar Scratch Trophy winner Holland now faces the talented Hermitage international Rowan Lester in the semi-finals with Irish Amateur Open champion Colm Campbell from Warrenpoint taking on 19-year old Portmarnock sensation Conor Purcell.
“Sean didn’t give me anything,” said Holland, who was one down after three but then went 3-3-3-3-2-4 from the fourth (eagle-par-birdie-birdie-birdie-par) to turn two up.
Flanagan made a rare mistake at the 11th to go three down, lost the 12th and 13th to Holland birdies to go down 5 and 4.
“I was five under for the 14 holes,” Holland said. “I was solid but all the guys are good players so you have to hole putts.”
As for his win over Pierse, who confessed that he “ran out of gas” and lost concentration after the turn, he said: “For 65 he is still hits is phenomenally. He hit two shots in the wind and rain on seven — a little draw against the wind, and then a little draw into the green.
"To have that much control over your ball at that age is impressive. We’re talking a hard left to right wind. I started mine left of the hump and let the wind bring it back because I struggle to turn it over. He started it left half of the fairway and held it up."
Asked if he felt he could win a cap with a win, he said: "I am not even thinking about it. Obviously I'd love a cap but the quarter-finals mean nothing. Nor does getting to the final of the West. You have to get a win or be seriously consistent to get a cap. I have a different agenda this year. I new job coming up in Deloitte in September so I am really enjoying this."
While Campbell was impressive as he edged out Portmarnock’s James Fox at the 18th and then beat Tramore’s Robin Dawson 4 and 3, Purcell beat Boys international Thomas Mulligan 4 and 3 before defeating Cairndhu’s Stephen Watts 3 and 1 in a high quality quarter-final.
Victory for Purcell, who is a son of Portmarnock professional Joe Purcell, would rubber stamp his almost certain call up for the Home International matches. which start at Nairn in Scotland on August 10.
The team will be picked on Sunday and named next week.
South of Ireland Amateur Open, sponsored by Pierse Motors Volkswagen
Lahinch Golf Club (Par 72)
- 0830 Rowan Lester (Hermitage) v Daniel Holland (Castle)
- 0845 Colm Campbell Jnr (Warrenpoint) v Conor Purcell (Portmarnock)
(Final, Sunday at 2pm)
- Rowan Lester (Hermitage) bt David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown) 2/1
- Daniel Holland (Castle) bt Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo) 5/4
- Colm Campbell Jnr (Warrenpoint) bt Robin Dawson (Tramore) 4/3
- Conor Purcell (Portmarnock) bt Stephen Watts (Cairndhu) 3/1.
- Rowan Lester (Hermitage) bt Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) 5&4
- David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown) bt John Greene (Portmarnock) 19th
- Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo) bt Jake Whelan (Newlands) 1 Hole
- Daniel Holland (Castle) bt Arthur Pierse (Tipperary) 5&4
- Colm Campbell Jnr (Warrenpoint) bt James Fox (Portmarnock) 1 Hole
- Robin Dawson (Tramore) bt Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) 2&1
- Conor Purcell (Portmarnock) bt Thomas Mulligan (Co Sligo) 4&3
- Stephen Watts (Cairndhu) bt Alex Gleeson (Castle) 20th.