Tramore’s Robin Dawson hopes to wield his putting like a “hoover” rather than a deadly weapon as he seeks some AIG Irish Close Championship revenge in the last 16 at Ballyliffin today.
The 20-year old Waterford man cruised to an emphatic 8 and 7 win over Castlebar’s Shane O'Connor in the first round but he needed to dig deep to get through by one hole in the afternoon as Rathmore’ Ben Best holed putt after putt on the Glashedy Links.
Best pulled off the biggest shock of the morning when he beat international and Irish Amateur Open strokeplay champion Colm Campbell by one hole.
And Dawson was more happy to see him off by the same margin in the afternoon and set up a last 16 meeting with Castle’s Alex Gleeson.
“I was playing really nice and I could see myself finishing off the game,” Dawson said. “I was two up through 12 holes and Ben started rolling in putts — a 35-40 footer on 13, a nine footer on 14 and a 15 footer on 15.
“I just said, 'Do you have a hoover on the end of that putter or what?' He was gentleman to play against and we had a really good sporting game that just managed to win.”
Laughing Dawson added: “I was delighted he knocked out Colm Campbell for me this morning. Although I wanted to play Collie to get a bit of revenge on him after the quarters of the South.
“Unfortunately that won’t be. So I have to get revenge on Mr Gleeson tomorrow now after he beat me on the 19th in the semi-finals of the Close last year in Tramore.
“Hopefully we will have good came tomorrow. He rolled in a 25 footer to beat me so hopefully I will have the hoover tomorrow.”
Dawson is in the bottom half of the draw and could face Colin Fairtweather or defending champion Tiaran McLarnon in the afternoon as St Andrew Links Trophy winner Conor O’Rourke showed his confidence with a 2 and 1 win over Boys international Thomas Mulligan.
The Naas ace now faces Portmarnock's Geoff Lenehan, who knew he was in for a test against David Foy but won the 17th to go ahead, the got up and down from 100 yards after bunkering his tee shot on 18 to win by one hole.
Foy beat former South of Ireland champion John Greene on the 19th in Lahinch, where he said he wanted to prove to pal Lenehan that his South win in 2010 was no "flash in the pan."
"He's taken a few heavy scalps." Lenehan said of Foy.
Earlier in the day he took a big scalp in two-time "major" winner Robbie Cannon.
Dubliner Lenehan — a Munster Interprovincial and former Mullingar Scratch Cup winner — is sharing a house this week with fellow Portmarnock man Jack Pierse and Royal Dublin's Richard Knightly (among others).
The hashtag #JL (Jock Legend) frequently accompanies their online banter about their peers' most impressive feats and this week it could be their turn for a share of the glory.
The three amigos are not the only players in the field with day jobs by any means, but they are representative of the working amateur and on their day they’ve got the games to frighten any of the big guns.
A nephew of former Walker Cup player Arthur, 25-year Pierse has been in red-hot form, winning the Kerry Scratch Cup and playing in the final groups in both the East of Ireland and the Mullingar Scratch Cup, where he was second.
He was out in six under 29 as he beat Michael McCormick 8 and 7 in the morning, then made five birdies in the first 10 holes for 2 and 1 win over Castlerock’s Aaron Kearny in the afternoon.
Pierse could face Knightly in the semi-finals and after beating Cork’s John Hickey on the 20th, the Royal Dublin man is hopeful that he or one of the housemates can make a run title.
He takes on Mark Morrissey and Kinsale’s Cathal Butler facing a dangerous Jake Whelan from Newlands.
A nephew of former Walker Cup player Arthur, 25-year old Pierse won the Kerry Scratch Cup and played in the final group at both the East and the Mullingar Scratch Cup, where he was second.
And he was in stunning form as he beat Michael McCormick 8 and 7 win the morning, covering the front nine in an estimated six under 29, before making five birdies in the first 10 holes to go four up en route to a 2 and 1 win over Castlerock’s Aaron Kearny in the afternoon.
“It’s matchplay,” Pierse said. “I think if I can keep playing the way I am playing, I am not going to be far away."
As for Knightly, a former South of Ireland semi-finalist, he knows he's got the game to go all the way.
It's consistency that's the key and that's something he knows is something he can't guarantee.
"It’s nice to go through a few rounds because I am staying with Sean, John, Jack and Geoff and it's a great week," he said after the putter went lukewarm in the afternoon and he was taken to the 20th by Joh Hickey.
"I am just delighted to get a run out of it. I payed well this morning but didn’t hole as many putts to this afternoon.
I know when I am on I have a chance against most people but it doesn’t happen as often when you are working."
Leading qualifier John Ross Galbraith still looks like the man to beat after he completed comfortable wins over Bushfoot’s Owen Crooks and Galway’s Cathal Nolan.
“I was four under this morning for 17 and around three under this afternoon,” the 2014 champion said. “I am playing solid golf and I will be hard to beat. I really like the course, which I’m seeing for the first time this week.
“The bunkers are really well-positioned and have to think about what you are doing. You can’t just stand up and lash driver. Course management is an asset and it’s a strength of mine.
“I don’t mind hitting two iron off the tee and leaving myself a six or five iron because I have been striking it very well. It’s suited me well so far.
“I want to turn pro and I know you want to be winning championships one after the other. I had a slow start to the season, just trying too hard, making mistakes and getting upset with myself.
"I don’t know why, but I always seem to play well late in the season so hopefully I can keep it going from here.”
AIG Irish Close Championship. at Ballyliffin GC, Glashedy Links (Par 72)
Round Three, August 19
- (0800) Mark Morrissey (Mount Wolseley) v Jack Pierse (Portmarnock)
- (0809) Cathal Butler (Kinsale) v Jake Whelan (Newlands)
- (0818) Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin) v Marc Nolan (Delgany)
- (0827) Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) v John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead)
- (0836) Robin Dawson (Tramore) v Alex Gleeson (Castle)
- (0845) Colin Fairweather (Knock) v Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene)
- (0854) Conor O'Rourke (Naas) v Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock)
- (0903) Gareth Lappin (Belvoir Park) v Peter Kerr (Royal Portrush
Round Two, August 18
- Mark Morrissey (Mount Wolseley) bt Michael Ryan (New Ross) 1 hole
- Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) bt Aaron Kearney (Castlerock) 2/1
- Cathal Butler (Kinsale) bt John Cleary (Elm Park) 19th
- Jake Whelan (Newlands) bt Paul Murphy (Rosslare) 3/1
- Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin) bt John Hickey (Cork) 20th
- Marc Nolan (Delgany) bt Marc Norton (Belvoir Park) 4/3
- Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) bt William Small (Tandragee) 3/1
- John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) bt Cathal Nolan (Galway) 3/2
- Robin Dawson (Tramore) bt Best Best (Rathmore) 1 hole
- Alex Gleeson (Castle) bt Alan Lowry (Esker Hills) 5/4
- Colin Fairweather (Knock) bt Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) 20th
- Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) bt Peter Cummins (Lurgan) 4/2
- Conor O'Rourke (Naas) bt Thomas Mulligan (Co. Louth) 2/1
- Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) bt David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown) 1 hole
- Gareth Lappin (Belvoir Park) bt John Murphy (Kinsale) 5/4
- Peter Kerr (Royal Portrush) bt Kyle McCarron (North West) 2 holes.
Round One, August 18
- Mark Morrissey (Mount Wolseley) bt Gary Collins (Rosslare) 3/1
- Michael Ryan (New Ross) bt Aaron Grant (Dundalk) 20th
- Aaron Kearney (Castlerock) bt Robbie Pierse (Grange) 19th
- Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) bt Michael McCormick (Ireland) 8/7
- John Cleary (Elm Park) bt Eanna Griffin (Waterford) 2 h.
- Cathal Butler (Kinsale) bt Jonathan Yates (Naas) 3/2
- Paul Murphy (Rosslare) bt Alan Fahy (Dun Laoghaire) 3/1
- Jake Whelan (Newlands) bt Stefan Greenberg (Tandragee) 4/3
- John Hickey (Cork) bt Ronan Mullarney (Galway) 1h.
- Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin) bt Matthew Fitzsimons (Ardglass) 4/3
- Marc Nolan (Delgany) bt William Russell (Clandeboye) 2 h.
- Marc Norton (Belvoir Park) bt Paul Doherty (Ballyliffin) 4/2
- William Small (Tandragee) bt Philip Kelly (Co. Armagh) 1h.
- Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) bt Anthony McDaid (Palmerstown Stud) 4/3
- Cathal Nolan (Galway) bt Ross Dutton (Tandragee) 4/2
- John-Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) bt Owen Crooks (Bushfoot) 3/1
- Robin Dawson (Tramore) bt Shane O'Connor (Castlebar) 8/7
- Ben Best (Rathmore) bt Colm Campbell Jnr (Warrenpoint) 1 h.
- Alan Lowry (Esker Hills) bt Alan Doherty (Corrstown) 3/2
- Alex Gleeson (Castle) bt Graeme Arthur (Carrickfergus) 4/3
- Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) bt Sean Broe (Forrest Little) 6/5
- Colin Fairweather (Knock) bt Jack Mc Donnell (Forrest Little) 2/1
- Peter Cummins (Lurgan) bt Eugene Smith (Ardee) 2/1
- Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) bt James Sugrue (Mallow) 4/2
- Thomas Mulligan (Co. Louth) bt Stephen Barker (Mourne) 2/1
- Conor O'Rourke (Naas) bt Rory Williamson (Holywood) 2/1
- Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) bt Robert Cannon (Balbriggan) 2/1
- David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown) bt Gavin Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick) 4/3
- Gareth Lappin (Belvoir Park) bt Tony Cleary (Woodstock) 4/3
- John Murphy (Kinsale) bt Rob Brazill (Naas) 20th
- Kyle McCarron (North West) bt Joe Lyons (Galway) 1 h.
- Peter Kerr (Royal Portrush) bt Michael Young (Ring Of Kerry) 19th.