British Amateur: McBride makes quarters, epic Rafferty falls at 25th
Paul McBride in an archive image for Wake Forest

Paul McBride in an archive image for Wake Forest

The Island's Paul McBride carries Irish hopes into the quarter-finals of the Amateur Championship for the second year running after he ousted English favourite Jack Singh Brar on the 18th at Royal St George's

On a day when Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty fell at the 25th and Stuart Grehan at the 18th in the last 32, the Wake Forest star beat American Jimmy Stanger before defeating Singh Brar at the 18th on a day of electric golf and weather at the Kent links

Against Singh Brar, McBride was three up after four holes but was forced to hole a clutch six-footer for par on the 18th to finally put the Lytham Trophy winner to the sword.

It was another tough day for the Irish at Sandwich which saw Dundalk's Rafferty, the leading qualifier, finally beaten at the 25th after an epic third round tussle with Argentina's world No 24 Alejandro Tosti and Stuart Grehan also beaten at the death.

Playing the kind of golf that must surely make him a shoe in for an international call-up this year, Rafferty was denied victory in regulation when Tosti reduced the 448-yard 18th to a three-wood, a nine-iron and a three-foot putt he later described as the shot of his life.


It turned out to be an enthralling heavyweight contest and even featured a two-hour stoppage for thunder and lightning, forcing the protagonists to shelter with one of the neighbours and a Sky Sports TV crew.

When they resumed hostilities, it was the Argentinian who advanced with a birdie at the par-five seventh.

After finding the green in two, he looked on and saw Rafferty's pitch hit the hole and lip out for eagle. 

But after Tosti two-putted from long range for his four, Rafferty lipped out from around four feet for the half and bowed out to an ecastatic Tosi, who was thrilled to pull off the win having been forced to make that crucial birdie at the 18th to force extra holes.

Caolan Rafferty. Picture: Tony McLean/T. McLean Photography

Caolan Rafferty. Picture: Tony McLean/T. McLean Photography

Tosti then crushed England’s Charlie Strickland, who earlier disposed of young Australian prospect Min Woo Lee by one hole, by 4 and 3 in in the delayed fourth round.

Tullamore's Grehan was beaten by one hole by Scotland's Ryan Lumsden in a tight affair in the third round which left 21-year old McBride as Ireland's great hope.

A losing semi-finalist last year, the world No 66 had to hole a 20 footer at the last to qualify for the matchplay stages, beat American world No 11, the University of Virginia's Jimmy Stanger, by two holes before crushing the dream of Lytham Trophy winner Singh Brar with another gritty performance in the evening, 

McBride won the first in par and the second and fourth with birdies to go three up.

But Singh Brar fought back, winning the sixth and 10th with birdies to reduce the gap to just one hole.

Four of the next five holes were exchanged to leave McBride still one up playing the last and he duly closed out the match with an excellent four and must now be considered a likely Walker Cup candidate alongside Grehan.

McBride now faces England's Harry Ellis in the quarter-finals as Tosti takes on European Amateur champion Stefano Mazzoli.

Australia's Dylan Perry takes on Norway's Jarle Kaldestad Volden for the right to meet Tosti or Mazzoli while McBride will he hoping to go through to meet the winner between Italy' Luca Cianchetti or Sweden's Fredrik Niléhn in Friday afternoon's semi-finals.

The 36 hole final takes place on Saturday with the winner, should he remain amateur, guaranteed a place in next month's Open Championship at Royal Birkdale and the 2018 US Open at Shinnecock Hills as well as the traditional invitation to the Masters Tournament.