Portmarnock's Conor Purcell could meet Tramore's Robin Dawson or Kinsale's John Murphy in the semi-finals of the Amateur Championship after another sensational day for Irish amateur golf at Royal Aberdeen.
In-form Murphy knocked out the world number five Viktor Hovland to progress to the quarter-finals, where he will meet his countryman and former Maynooth University teammate Dawson.
In windy conditions at Royal Aberdeen, the 20-year-old Kinsale golfer, who was originally a reserve for the event, defeated the field’s highest-ranked player 6&5 to set up the all Irish match-up on Friday.
Fresh from his St Andrews Links Trophy victory earlier this month, Murphy made light work of the Norwegian following his earlier third round win over American Walker Lee (4&2).
“I feel a lot more confident coming off the back of winning the St Andrews Links trophy," Murphy said. "I guess you could say I didn’t really have a name for myself before St Andrews but I got out there and managed to pick up the win.
“I feel I can win against the top-ranked players in the world and I don’t think I would have felt that way without the victory last week. I’m feeling good and every part of my game is clicking.
“I was 14th reserve so when I got the call to say I was playing I was delighted."
The winner of the Championship will get a spot in The Open at Carnoustie (and a likely invitation to the Masters).
“I grew up watching Padraig Harrington lift the Claret Jug so playing in The Open would be incredible," Murphy said. "He certainly inspired me to play golf. Watching him at The K Club and win The Open are some of my earliest golfing memories so it would be great to follow.”
On his clash with Dawson, he said: "He caddied for me at St Andrews, and I went to college with him for a year and we get on really well. It will be a good match, we are both good players and we are looking forward to it."
Dawson is also full of confidence after his Flogas Irish Amateur Open win at Royal County Down and some excellent performances so far this week.
“I played lovely golf, I was really in control of my ball flight and just played really solid so I’m happy to come out on top," said Dawson, who followed his two-hole win over Spain's Victor Pastor with a 6&5 mauling of Sweden's Elis Svärd.
“I don’t have to tell you Irish golf is strong at the moment, today really helped with the wind as we’re well used to that but it just goes to show how strong Irish golf is.
"It’s a pity we’ll have to play each other but it’s just another match really so we’ll see how we get on tomorrow."
Hermitage's Rowan Lester was one up with three to play but lost the last three holes to go down by two holes to Ben Hutchinson in the third round as Mallow's James Sugrue, three up after nine, fell 3&2 to Sweden's Christoffer Pålsson who will now face England's Mitch Waite in the last eight.
The winner will play Tom Sloman or South African Jovan Rebula in the semi-finals with all three Irish in the bottom half of the draw.
As for Purcell, who celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday, he knocked out Walker Cup player Matthew Jordan following a stunning chip-in at the 19th before making five birdies in six holes on the back nine to clinch a 3&2 victory over Sweden's Adam Blommé in the afternoon.
The Dubliner will now play the top-ranked Australian David Micheluzzi, the world number 19, who took down Mexico’s Raul Pereda 5&4 to book a spot in the fifth round.
"It's a bit surreal," Purcell said after his spectacular finish. “This morning I was on the back foot going into the back nine and managed to get something out of it, and then the second game in the afternoon I played out of my skin.
“Funnily enough I missed it on the wrong side (tee shot on 19th in third round match), it was straight downwind over a bunker, and I just though, get it on the green and inside Matthew but I got it in. It’s a bit of luck but always nice for something like that to go in.
“A birthday’s another day, but we’ll see what happens and just keep it going.”
The quarter finals get underway on Friday at Royal Aberdeen at 8.15am followed by the semi-finals at 1pm.
The Amateur Championship, Royal Aberdeen
- 08:15 Tom Sloman (Taunton & Pickeridge) v Jovan Rebula (South Africa)
- 08:30 Mitch Waite (Filton) v Christoffer Pålsson (Sweden)
- 08:45 Conor Purcell (Portmarnock) v David Micheluzzi (Australia)
- 09:00 Robin Dawson (Tramore) v John Murphy (Kinsale)