Anderson and Pierse to meet in West of Ireland final
 The 17th at Rosses Point

The 17th at Rosses Point

Rosses Point native Barry Anderson remains on course to become the first home winner of the West of Ireland Amateur Open for 67 years after he came from three down after four holes to beat Newlands' Jake Whelan 5 and 3 and clinch his place in this afternoon's final.

The 26-year old Dublin-based accountant, now playing out of Royal Dublin but a lifelong member of County Sligo, will face another 26-year old accountant in Portmarnock's Jack Pierse in the decider (1.30). 

Pierse was never behind at any stage, beating 20-year old dairy farmer William Small from Tandragee by 3 and 2.

The final is sure to draw a huge local crowd, and after coming from behind to beat Whelan comprehensively, Anderson is confident he can end Co Sligo's long wait for a successor to 1950 winner Cecil Ewing. 

"I was two under for the holes played, and even though I was three down after a bogey at the fourth, I knew that if I kept playing my game, I wasn't out of it," Anderson said.

"He birdied two and three to go two up, and it was the first time I was down all week. But I knew I wasn't playing badly. It would have been different if I had handed him a couple of holes. 

"I treated it like a strokeplay round and tried to shoot the best score I could, knowing that if I could get back to all square, he would feel that the momentum was with me. 

"I tried not to let it faze me and birdied the fifth though I raced my eagle putt 18 to 20 feet past and had to hole the one back not to go four down. 

"Getting that putt was a pivotal moment — it could have been curtains had I missed it — but I then birdied to sixth to get back to two down and when he bogeyed the seventh and a short par putt horseshoed back to him at the eighth, we were all square.

"He bogeyed 10, which was playing tough into the wind, and it was massive to get ahead. He had to hole a good putt on 11 to stay one down, and I then birdied 12 to go two up."

With all the momentum on Anderson's side, Whelan bogeyed found sand at the 13th and bogeyed again, then lost the 14th to a par go four down with four to go.

When he dropped another shot at the 15th, it was all over. 

A disappointed Whelan said: "Barry played very solidly and didn't do much wrong and he deserved to win. I will just try to improve for Lytham and the Irish Amateur Open."

Pierse has had to go to the 18th just once in his five matches so far, and he was never behind against former Munster Boys champion Small.

The Armagh man bogeyed the first and third to find himself two down, but while he won the fourth in par, Pierse birdied the fifth and sixth to go three up, then took the seventh in par to extend the gap to four holes.

Small did not go down without a fight, however, and birdied the 11th to get back to three down,halved the 12th in birdie and won the 13th with a two to get back to two down with five to go.

The key moment came at the 14th, where Pierse made a fine birdie to go three up again and closed out the match with pars
at the next two holes.

"He was throwing birdies at me, but I hit driver down the 14th into the wind and hit a punched seven iron to eight feet, and after he had missed from 20 feet, I holed the putt," Pierse said. 

"My brother Robbie has been reading all the putts, and he gave me a good read there. I holed everything out there but let's see how it goes this afternoon."

Small was disappointed but also proud of how he played in his first West of Ireland Championship appearance.

"I started badly, and Jack played really solidly all day," Small said. "It was hard to get back when he was playing so well.

"I was pleased I managed to give him a run towards the end, but he didn't give anything away, he didn't buckle under the pressure and made a great birdie on the 14th.

"I am disappointed to come this far and get beaten, but when I look back, it was a good experience overall for my first time playing the West."

West of Ireland Amateur Open, County Sligo GC

Semi-finals — Tuesday, April 18

  • Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) bt William Small (Tandragee) 3/2;
  • Barry Anderson (The Royal Dublin) bt Jake Whelan (Newlands) 5/3.

Final

(13:30) Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) v Barry Anderson (The Royal Dublin)