Rafferty, McBride and Grehan into last 32 in Sandwich
Tullamore's Stuart Grehan in action in last month's Lytham Trophy. Picture: Golffile / Thos Caffrey.

Tullamore's Stuart Grehan in action in last month's Lytham Trophy. Picture: Golffile / Thos Caffrey.

Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty moved comfortably into the third round of The 122nd Amateur Championship as Paul McBride and Stuart Grehan also progressed at Royal St George's.

The 25-year old, who shot a 10 under 62 in the second qualifying round at Prince's to lead the qualifiers, had a 5 and 3 victory over Frenchman David Ravetto as McBride beat Australia's David Micheluzzi by one hole in the morning and then saw off Sweden's Oliver Gillberg 4 and 2 in the afternoon to set up a last 32 match with American Jimmy Stanger.


Grehan beat Dutchman Peter Melching 4 and 2 in round two, but it was a mixed day for the Irish with five of the eight players to make the last 64 fell by the wayside.

In the first round, Portmarnock's Conor Purcell lost 3 and 1 to Swede Fredrik Niléhn as Whitehead's John Ross Galbraith fell by 3 and 2 to Finland's Casper Simberg.

Niléhn went on to put out Welshman David Boote in the afternoon as Simberg beat the excellent South African Kyle McClatchie with his first competitive hole-in-one at the 21st in the afternoon.

Naas' Conor O'Rourke lost 3 and 2 to Australian world No 47 Min Woo Lee in round two with Tramore's Robin Dawson beaten 5 and 3 by Scotland's Ryan Lumsden and Co Sligo's Sean Flanagan ousted 2 and 1 by Lytham Trophy winner Jack Singh Brar.

“I started off really well, I was five up through five," Lee said. "It was going to be pretty tough for my opponent to get it back because I was playing pretty solid and my game is looking very good right now.

“This is my first time in the UK so I don’t have as much experience as the other players but I got used to it pretty quickly.”

As for Flanagan, he was down early and fought back but Singh Brar was too strong.

“I played quite nicely and had a quick start," said Singh, who was four up through six. "That always helps! I had a few loose shots around the ninth and 10th and went back to three but then I just got it done.

“This is the first time I have made the cut at The Amateur Championship. I’ve never been able to do that before now.”

Rafferty continued the stunning form which saw him set a new course record 62 at Prince’s on Tuesday and will now play Argentina’s Alejandro Tosti, who beat England’s Gian-Marco Petrozzi 3 and 1.

“I was steady again," Rafferty said. "David didn’t play his best golf so par was a good enough score to win the match. 

"We were both a bit scrappy at the start but I went two up early and then just hit fairways and greens to keep it going. I didn’t give him a chance to get back into it.

“Setting the course record at Prince’s gave me that extra boost knowing my game is there. To take it into today was always going to be hard, especially after being on such a high. 

"I just levelled myself out and thought it’s a new day, a new goal, a new start – matchplay is a funny old game."

Rafferty added: “Par golf isn’t a bad result around here so tomorrow is just another fresh start. You can’t dictate what the other player does. You have to just go and play your own game around the course. 

"Playing the course is actually better sometimes than playing the player. Yes, it helps if he’s in trouble to play a bit safer but I don’t get too bogged down in who I’m playing.”

Grehan was pleased with his 4 and 2 win and now takes on Dawson's nemesis, Lumsden.

“I played solid today," the Maynooth University star said. "There were a few bad holes but they were cancelled out with some birdies. I’m pretty happy going into tomorrow.

“Playing in the Arnold Palmer Cup and getting four rounds of match play in over there has made a difference. 

"So it was nice to get into the match play here, and hopefully I can kick on over the next few days. I feel like I have been getting better every round so hopefully, that continues.”

Last year’s Amateur Championship finalist and the highest-ranked player in the field, Robert MacIntyre booked his place in the third round after coming through two matches in the baking heat in Kent. 

The Scotland international dispatched China’s Zheng Kai Bai 3&1 in the morning and defeated Australia’s Ben Ferguson 3 and 2 in the afternoon.

MacIntyre, who was defeated 2 and 1 by Scott Gregory in the 2016 final at Royal Porthcawl, will be looking to go one better this year and get his hands on the historic trophy on Saturday evening. Fellow Scots Craig Howie and Lumsden are also through.

This is the England international’s first foray into the match play stage at The Amateur Championship, and he now faces Swiss golfer Perry Cohen for a place in the last 16. 

In a good day for the host nation, Singh Brar’s fellow countrymen Charlie Strickland, Daniel O’Loughlin, Jordan Sundborg, Harry Ellis, Tom Sloman, George Baylis, and David Langley all progressed to Thursday's third round

R&A Foundation Scholars Tournament Champion Stuart Grehan defeated Dutch golfer Peter Melching to set up a third-round tie with Scotland international Lumsden. Ireland’s Paul McBride joins him in the last 32 after his victory over Swede Oliver Gillberg.

Of the Australian contingent, Min Woo Lee, Zach Murray, Dylan Perry and Harrison Endycott are still in with a chance of becoming the first Australian to win the championship since Bryden Macpherson in 2011 at Hillside.

The third round gets underway on Thursday at Royal St George’s at 7.30am.