Royal County Down no problem for cancer survivor Towndrow

Royal County Down no problem for cancer survivor Towndrow
 Sean Towndrow misses his birdie putt at the 18th in round two of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal County Down. Picture:  Pat Cashman

Sean Towndrow misses his birdie putt at the 18th in round two of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal County Down. Picture: Pat Cashman

A missed four-footer means nothing when you've been out for a year battling lymphatic cancer.

Just ask Southport and Ainsdale's Sean Towndrow, who shrugged off a short birdie miss on the 18th and added a 70 to his opening 69 for a share of the halfway lead with South Africa’s Kyle McClatchie in the Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal County Down.

The towering England international, a semi-finalist in the British Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush three years ago, was more than pleased to join McClatchie in a one-stroke lead over the field on three-under par 139.

“It’s good, it’s nice, it’s been a while since I’ve been up there,” said 26-year old Towndrow, who had three birdies and two bogeys on another benign day at the Newcastle links.

“I had last year off with lymphatic cancer. Hopefully, I’m all clear though I’m still having a few tests. It’s about nine months since I finished treatment so I just got back into golf in early February.

“It just came out of nowhere. I was just feeling a bit tired towards the end of 2015 and then I got diagnosed in early 2016. 

“I had a lot of tiredness. I had a massive pain in my chest because I had a tumour in the front of my chest — I struggled to breathe and at the time struggled to walk further than 10 yards.

“About six weeks later they diagnosed me. Golf has a different meaning now. I’m just trying to get my fitness back, so the more rounds I can play the better.”

At 6'5", Towndrow is a towering presence compared to co-leader McClatchie, who is of more Richard Sterne proportions.

 Peter O'Keeffe tees off on the ninth in round two of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal County Down. Picture:  Pat Cashman

Peter O'Keeffe tees off on the ninth in round two of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal County Down. Picture: Pat Cashman

The 19-year-old South African also has a very compact game, as he showed when he battled his own frustrations but added a level par 71 to his opening 68 to set the target.

Out in two over par, he came back in two under with the pick of his birdies coming at the 15th.

"I hit a two-iron and then a seven-iron to 10 feet and made the putt. so I was really chuffed with that birdie," McClatchie said. "It was really nice. It's a really tough hole.

"I bogeyed the 17th by driving into the bunker and almost went in the water with my second. I haven't hit that fairway once, not even in the practice round."

With six wins in the past year, including a six shot triumph on the Big Easy Tour recently, McClatchie is clearly unfraid of leading or winning. 

Whether the can join compatriot Louis Oosthuizen on the list of winners of the Irish Amateur Open is another question with the top 39 on the leaderboard covered by six strokes.

"We'll see," he said with a grin. "There is a lot of golf to be played so I will just try to get myself into a good position for the last nine holes. I haven't really tried to overpower the golf course. I have been giving it its due respect as one should around here. I have been doing my own thing and just getting it around."

 Co-leader Kyle McClatchie of South Africa in action in the Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal County Down. Picture:  Pat Cashman

Co-leader Kyle McClatchie of South Africa in action in the Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal County Down. Picture: Pat Cashman

The leaders are just one stroke clear of Scotland’s Christopher MacLean (67), who came home in 31, Belvoir Park’s Marc Norton (68) and Douglas’ Peter O’Keeffe (70).

Norton, the 19-year old reigning Leinster Youths champion, has just finished the second year of his psychology degree at Oakland University and he was thrilled to shoot three under with one of the highlights of his round coming at the ninth.

"I had to hack out side roads from the rough but then holed my third from 124 yards," he said. "That helped. Coming in I played solid and holed a long one on 18 for birdie." 

Former Challenge Tour professional O'Keeffe, who was reinstated as an amateur last year, holed a pair of 25 footers for birdie on the last two greens for a second successive 70 and could well turn out to be a tough opponent over the last two rounds given his experience.

 Marc Norton. Picture:  Pat Cashman

Marc Norton. Picture: Pat Cashman

"I do believe I can win," the 35-year old said. "I've been working hard over the winter with Noel Fox so my swing is coming together. 

"I also had a nice putting tip from the Munster coach Fred Twomey after I missed everything I looked at in the practice round and sent him a few videos on Wednesday night. 

"I've also got a much calmer outlook on golf these days, which is helping me be a more patient golfer."

The leading Irish international is Castle’s Alex Gleeson, who made just one bogey in an impressive 69 to share sixth on one-under par with Scotland’s George Bloor (70) and Kinsale’s John Murphy, who shot a best of the week 66.

 Kinsale's John Murphy tees off in the Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal County Down. Picture:  Pat Cashman

Kinsale's John Murphy tees off in the Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal County Down. Picture: Pat Cashman

The 18-year old from Kinsale raced around in four hours in the first group of the day before his mother drove him back to Maynooth University to sit an economics exam in the afternoon.

"I requested the first tee-time today because I’ve an exam at 3.30pm so it’s not ideal but some things have to be done," said the Paddy Harrington Scholarship student after making an eagle and six birdies.

The top 50 and ties — currently all those on five-over 147 — will make the 54-hole cut tonight which means work for defending champion Colm Campbell, who is 97th on 10 over after rounds of 79 and 73.

Irish Amateur Open Championship, Royal County Down (Par 71)

Today’s tee times

Rd 3:

  1. 07:00 Reid, Trinder;
  2. 07:10 Brophy, Burnage, Brady; 
  3. 07:20 Dolan, Moran, Junak;
  4. 07:30 Haije, McLarnon, Komline;
  5. 07:40 Hapgood, Hutson, Collins;
  6. 07:50 Foy, Sugrue, Whelan
  7. 08:05 Chamberlain, Seaman, Collins;
  8. 08:15 Butler, Dutton, Dunne;
  9. 08:25 Sundborg, Hamilton, Foley
  10. 08:35 Harris, Boon, Geraghty;
  11. 08:45 Howard, Stokes, Cline;
  12. 08:55 Zillekens, Harman, McDougall;
  13. 09:10 Beasley, Dietzel, Morrissey;
  14. 09:20 Thornton, Young-alls, Donnelly;
  15. 09:30 Long, R Pierse, Campbell;
  16. 09:40 Goldstein, Harris, Hickey;
  17. 09:50 Vahlenkamp, Jones, Grant;
  18. 10:00 Neergaard-Petersen, Geissler, Dougan;
  19. 10:15 Gregory, Le Blanc, Coughlan;
  20. 10:25 Gandy, McDermott, Ryan;
  21. 10:35 Lyons, McMahon, Bleakley;
  22. 10:45 O’Rourke, Nicholas, Long;
  23. 10:55 Power, Carter, Crawford;
  24. 11:05 A McCormack, Waite, Harper;
  25. 11:25 Leonard, McDonnell, Olesen;
  26. 11:35 Wilson, Matthews, Lappin;
  27. 11:45 Unger, Galbraith, Nolan;
  28. 11:55 J Pierse, Coulter, Schmid;
  29. 12:05 Goddard, Bachem, Foley;
  30. 12:15 Plumb, Fairweather, Percy-Smith;
  31. 12:30 Mulligan, Small, Dawson;
  32. 12:40 Shepherd, E McCormack, Broholt Lind;
  33. 12:50 Rafferty, Farr, Bolton;
  34. 13:00 Lenehan, Saulez, Strickland;
  35. 13:10 Byers, Hilleard, Freiburghaus;
  36. 13:20 Frimodt, Brown, O’Connor;
  37. 13:35 Ross, Boote, Griffith;
  38. 13:45 Syme, Brazill, Glenn;
  39. 13:55 Petrozzi, Johnston, Gill;
  40. 14:05 O’Rourke, Consul, Raymond;
  41. 14:15 Howie, Hagestad, Poppleton;
  42. 14:30 Sloman, James, Rank; 
  43. 14:40 Venter, Randolph, Jordan;
  44. 14:50 Fox, McIntosh, Bernard;
  45. 15:00 Schmitt, Bloor, Gleeson; 
  46. 15:10 Murphy, O’Keeffe, Norton;
  47. 15:20 MacLean, McClatchie, Towndrow.

After 36 holes

139 S Towndrow (Southport & Ainsdale), 69, 70; K McClatchie (Serengeti), 68, 71

140 C MacLean (Balmore), 73, 67; M Norton (Belvoir Park), 72, 68; P O'Keeffe (Douglas), 70, 70

141 J Murphy (Kinsale), 75, 66; A Gleeson  (Castle), 72, 69; G Bloor (Cavendish), 71, 70

142 M Schmitt (Rheinhessen), 74, 68; H Bernard (Laval Sur-le-Lac), 71, 71; E McIntosh (Turnhouse), 71, 71; J Fox (Portmarnock), 70, 72; M Jordan (Royal Liverpool), 68, 74

143 T Randolph (Arcola), 73, 70; A Venter (Silverlakes), 72, 71; G Rank (Elmira), 72, 71; A James (Laval Sur-le-Lac), 71, 72; T Sloman (Taunton & Pickeridge), 69, 74; N Poppleton (Wath), 67, 76

144 S Hagestad (Deepdale), 73, 71; C Howie (Peebles), 73, 71; C Raymond (Newlands), 72, 72; C Consul (Duesseldorfer), 72, 72; C O'Rourke (Naas), 72, 72; B Gill (Lindrick), 70, 74; L Johnston (Dumfries and County), 70, 74; G Petrozzi (Trentham), 69, 75

145 J Glenn  (Brancepeth Castle), 75, 70; R Brazill (Naas), 74, 71; C Syme (Drumoig), 74, 71; E Griffith (Conwy), 74, 71; D Boote (Walton Heath), 73, 72; C Ross (Kirkhill), 73, 72; T O'Connor (Athlone), 72, 73; L Brown (Muriwai), 72, 73; G Frimodt (Odense Eventyr), 72, 73; J Freiburghaus (Domat/Ems), 72, 73; J Hilleard (Farrington Park), 71, 74; H Byers (Walton Heath), 71, 74

146 C Strickland (Ham Manor), 76, 70; M Saulez (Durban), 76, 70; G Lenehan (Portmarnock), 74, 72; J Bolton (Ogbourne Downs), 73, 73; C Farr (Priors Hall), 73, 73; C Rafferty (Dundalk), 72, 74; S Broholt Lind (Odder Gol), 72, 74; E McCormack (Galway Bay), 71, 75; L Shepherd (Rye), 71, 75; R Dawson (Tramore), 71, 75

147 W Small (Tandragee), 75, 72; T Mulligan (Laytown & Bettystown), 75, 72; O Percy-Smith (Furesø), 72, 75; C Fairweather (Knock), 71, 76; T Plumb (Sherborne), 71, 76; R Foley (Lausanne), 70, 77

148 N Bachem (Marienburger), 78, 70; H Goddard (Hanbury Manor), 76, 72; M Schmid (Herzogenaurach), 75, 73; S Coulter (Warrenpoint), 75, 73; J Pierse (Portmarnock), 74, 74; M Nolan (Delgany), 74, 74; J Galbraith (Whitehead), 73, 75; C Unger (St. Leon-Rot), 73, 75; G Lappin (Belvoir Park), 73, 75; L Matthews (Southerndown), 72, 76; J Wilson (Balmore), 72, 76; J Skov Olesen (Naestved), 72, 76; J McDonnell (Forrest Little), 69, 79

149 E Leonard (Wentworth), 79, 70; A Harper  (Bolton OldLinks), 76, 73; M Waite (Filton), 76, 73; A McCormack (Castletroy), 76, 73; N Crawford (Mourne), 76, 73; S Carter (The Royal Dublin), 75, 74; M Power (Kilkenny), 75, 74; C Long (Burton), 75, 74; J Nicholas (Westchester Country Club), 74, 75; I O'Rourke (The Royal Dublin), 74, 75; S Bleakley (Shandon Park), 73, 76; J McMahon (Wallasey), 73, 76; J Lyons (Galway), 70, 79

150 M Ryan (New Ross), 78, 72; G McDermott (Carton House), 77, 73; W Russell (Clandeboye), 76, 74; T Gandy  (Rowany), 76, 74; P Coughlan (Moate), 75, 75; K LeBlanc (The Island), 75, 75; S Gregory (Corhampton), 75, 75; D Dougan (Drumpelier), 74, 76; R Geissler (St. Leon-Rot), 72, 78

151 R Neergaard-Petersen (Furesø), 80, 71; A Grant (Dundalk), 78, 73; B Jones (Northamptonshire county), 77, 74; T Vahlenkamp (Berliner Stolper Heide), 74, 77; A Hickey (Ballyhaunis), 73, 78; T Harris (Castletown), 73, 78; D Goldstein (Noyac), 73, 78

152 C Campbell (Warrenpoint), 79, 73; R Pierse (Grange), 77, 75; J Long (Lansdown), 76, 76; L Donnelly (Kilkenny), 74, 78; H Young-alls (Notts), 73, 79; C Thornton (), 73, 79; M Morrissey (Co. Sligo), 71, 81

153 B Dietzel (Essen-Heidhausen), 80, 73; T Beasley (Hunstanton), 79, 74; A McDougall (Elderslie), 79, 74; K Harman (Southerndown), 77, 76; M Zillekens (Niederrheinischer), 77, 76; T Cline (The Tuxedo), 76, 77; J Stokes (La Moye), 76, 77; M Howard (The Royal Birkdale), 76, 77; C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown), 75, 78; C Boon (Oubaai), 75, 78; M Harris (St Mellons), 72, 81

154 H Foley (The Royal Dublin), 81, 73; S Hamilton (Notts), 80, 74; J Sundborg (Shanklin & Sandown), 78, 76; G Dunne (Co. Louth), 77, 77; R Dutton (Tandragee), 77, 77; C Butler (Kinsale), 77, 77; T Collins (Dun Laoghaire), 76, 78; J Seaman (Wrag Barn), 76, 78; B Chamberlain (Padeswood and Buckley), 76, 78

155 J Whelan (Newlands), 80, 75; J Sugrue (Mallow), 80, 75; D Foy (Laytown & Bettystown), 77, 78; G Collins (Rosslare), 76, 79

156 M Hutson (Muriwai), 80, 76

157 J Hapgood (Southerndown), 77, 80

158 B Komline (Black Oak), 82, 76; T McLarnon (Massereene), 79, 79; R Haije (Goyer), 76, 82

159 T Junak (GC Main-Taunus), 81, 78; R Moran  (Castle), 80, 79; T Dolan (Heswall), 80, 79; J Brady (Rosslare), 77, 82; J Burnage (Saunton), 75, 84

161 D Brophy (Castleknock), 78, 83

162 J Trinder (Pymble), 82, 80; M Reid (Galgorm Castle), 78, 84

164 M Boegel (St. Leon- Rot), 79, 85

WD B Best (Rathmore), 77, WD

DQ S Ryan (The Royal Dublin)