Sugrue and Mullarney keep home flag flying at Portmarnock
James Sugrue (Mallow) driving from the 10th tee in the opening round of the 2019 The Amateur Championship at Portmarnock Golf Club. (17/06/2019). Picture by  Pat Cashman

James Sugrue (Mallow) driving from the 10th tee in the opening round of the 2019 The Amateur Championship at Portmarnock Golf Club. (17/06/2019). Picture by Pat Cashman

Mallow's James Sugrue will be gunning for revenge when he faces Sweden's Christoffer Palsson in the third round of the Amateur Championship at Portmarnock.

The former South of Ireland champion (22) edged out English star Harry Hall 2&1 as Galway's Ronan Mullarney had two wins on the 17th to join him in the last 32.

"He beat me in the last 32 last year which was a bit of a choke," Sugrue (22) said of his defeat to Palsson at Royal Aberdeen. "I was three or four up and lost five holes in a row, something silly anyway. It would be nice to get one back at him."

Sugrue looks like he will take some beating on a course that demands quality golf at all times and he was pleased to come back from one down with seven to play by winning the 12th, 15th, 16th and 17th.

"I knew Harry is obviously a very good player and he's coming off a great run of tournaments," said Sugrue, whose 25 footer for birdie at the 16th putt pressure on Hall, who missed from eight feet. "

"He hit a few ropey shots, but he got some lovely up and downs as well where I was walking up to the green giving myself the hole. He's a little bump and run master.

"I knew Harry is obviously a very good player and he's coming off a great run of tournaments. I knew it would be tough enough match. I played lovely. I couldn't really have asked for more."

He loves the course too and the way it demands the very best of a player.

"It's hard to put it into words," he said. "It's a lot different to any other links that I've played. There's just no margin for error. I was quite surprised.

"Harry sniped it left on the first. On two, he sniped it left, and with the two of them, I thought with the rough around here, it's usually a hack out job, but he hit the both of them on to the green.

"I hit a bad tee shot off four. Probably my only bad tee shot. I was raging. It got under my skin a bit. He had hit it into the rough on one, two and three and got it on to the green. I had absolutely no shot on four. That was a bit infuriating. I got over it thankfully.

"On 12, the par three, I hit the shot of the day probably for me. I hit five iron straight down the flag, and it just kicked off a mound at the front of the green, and it kicked long and left. He hit a good shot to the middle of the green, and it trickled off.

"We both end up in the same spot, and I was like, 'I hit a way better shot than you there.' He left himself a really tough putt for par, and I was on the correct side of the hole. I held, and he missed, so that was match back to level."

It was another mixed day for the Irish, however, as Waterford's Eanna Griffin raced into a four-up lead over Scottish Walker Cup panellist Euan Walker after ten holes but made too many mistakes and fell by two holes.

"I was three under through ten, and I was 4-up and playing really good," Griffin said. "It just didn't happen after that. I hit a bad tee shot on 11, and it was in the heavy rough. I actually hit a really good shot out of it, but it ran into the bunker and up against the face. I had no shot and couldn't get it out. He was 20 feet for birdie.

"He parred the par-3. I just missed the green on 15 right, pin high but

I was on the downslope, and I had two sprinklers on my line for the putter. I couldn't putt it, so I had to try and chip through the sprinklers. It caught the lip of the sprinkler, and it stopped 20 feet away. A bit unlucky there.

I hit a bad drive on the par-5, so that was given, and it just wasn't great coming in.

"It's really tough. I hit it good off the tee for the first two days, especially around here. Just the last six holes it all deserted me a bit."

Ronan Mullarney (Galway) driving from the 15th tee in the opening round of the 2019 The Amateur Championship at Portmarnock Golf Club( 17/06/2019). Picture by  Pat Cashman

Ronan Mullarney (Galway) driving from the 15th tee in the opening round of the 2019 The Amateur Championship at Portmarnock Golf Club( 17/06/2019). Picture by Pat Cashman

Despite all that, he was delighted to play so well in qualifying, and he wants to push on now and win an Irish championship that could open the doors to the Irish team.

"I knew it was going to be a tough match, so I was really happy how I played the first ten or elven holes," he said. "If I can build on that in the Irish championships, hopefully, I can be like him and outplay lads coming down the stretch.

"It's very disappointing how I finished. I wouldn't be expecting to finish like that, but you have to take it on the chin."

Dundalk star Caolan Rafferty was also below par, losing by one hole to Finland's Jonatan Jolkkonen when he pushed his four-iron approach into greenside rough and did well just to make bogey.

"I just played brutal, and at this level, you are not going to win matches playing the way I played today," Rafferty said. "There will be better days, as people say, and they are dead right."

Mullarney qualified on the cut mark, and after coming through a preliminary round against American Mason Andersen by 2&1, he repeated the feat against England's Jake Bolton in the afternoon despite hitting two drives into the estuary at the first and falling one down after nine,

"The course is brilliant," said Mullarney, who has Newlands' Jake Whelan, on his bag. "It is a mental test more so than anything, I have never checked the yardage book so many times before a shot.

"It is not necessarily where the pin is, it's where to leave yourself in relation to the pin. It helped that I know the course because I have played it a few times. There is not a blade of grass out of place. It's brilliant. I am going to be slightly biased here, but this is my fourth Amateur, and this is the best one."

Mullarney won the R&A Scholars Tournament last year, but despite that links success, he's not getting ahead of himself and confessed he needs to tighten up his game.

"I didn't hit the ball great, so I am going to hit a few balls," he said after he'd won the 14th to square the match and taken the 16th without having to hit his third shot before closing out a 2&1 win with a par at the 17th. "There are so many matches left to play so one at a time.

"The win at St Andrews was on a classic links too, but this is a step bigger. I was beaten by the winner of the North twice in the quarterfinals, but that's it. Other than that, I have never been past the quarters. But I have Jake on the bag, and he's been to two semis!"

Australia’s David Micheluzzi in action at The 124th Amateur Championship at Portmarnock. Credit: The R&A/Getty

Australia’s David Micheluzzi in action at The 124th Amateur Championship at Portmarnock. Credit: The R&A/Getty

Australia's David Micheluzzi, who reached the quarter-finals at Royal Aberdeen last year and is seeking to become the first Australian winner of The Amateur since Bryden Macpherson in 2011, defeated Michel by two holes.

The 22-year-old advanced to meet Tom Sloman in tomorrow’s third round after the Englishman, also ranked highly at 28th in the world, displayed all of his battling qualities to defeat countryman Joseph Pagdin by one hole.

Four down after 11 holes, Sloman was making plans to head home before the Great Britain and Ireland squad member produced a brilliant fightback that he capped on the final green.

With Portmarnock hosting The Amateur Championship for only the second time after the previous staging in 1949, the famous links near Dublin is also being enjoyed by another English player, Thomas Plumb.

The leading qualifier from the stroke play stage wasted little time in reaching the third round after comfortably seeing off the challenge of Alejandro del Rey Gonzalez 7&5.

Plumb raced to a five-up lead at the turn and then almost holed his approach shot to the 11th before sealing the contest at the 13th. There was also a convincing victory from Germany’s Matthias Schmid as he came close to the biggest margin of victory possible in match play. The 21-year-old, a winner on the college circuit at the University of Louisville this year, won the opening five holes against Sam Done and triumphed 9&8.

In another remarkable match, this time in a preliminary first round tie, Italy’s Giovanni Manzoni finally advanced at the 25th hole after a marathon meeting with Eduard Rousaud from Spain.

In the last match of the day, England's Benjamin Jones eliminated the Dane John Axelsen, who was the second-placed qualifier, by two holes.

The match play stage continues with the last-32 and last-16 ties on Thursday, with the winner in Saturday’s 36-hole final gaining exemptions into The Open at Royal Portrush next month, the 2020 US Open at Winged Foot and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament.

David Micheluzzi, Australia

“It was a grind, as I think I only hit three or four fairways, so I had to rely on hitting it out into the right spots and making putts inside 10 feet which I did. My short game and putting is what I do best, and I’ve just got to hit more fairways and greens for now on. It’s an amazing course and a great test, there are no easy holes, and you have to think on every shot.

“I was looking at my phone last night and saw that I was playing Kyle, which was crazy. As two Victorian golfers, we wanted to meet each other later in the competition, but these things happen.

“We train three or four times together in Australia, and I see way too much of him in our programmes! We have a lot of fun and banter, and it felt a bit weird playing a mate in this calibre of event.”

Thomas Plumb, England

“I kept things going from yesterday and started off quickly, making birdies on one and two. I stuck it into the first hole to about six feet and holed about a 20-foot putt on the second. I felt if I kept playing like that it wasn’t going to be too much of a problem.

“I’m superstitious myself, so you do think about the history of top qualifiers often losing in the first round. Regardless of where I go in the championship, I thought getting through the first round tie was going to be the hardest one.”

Matthias Schmid, Germany

“It was definitely the biggest win of my life, by far. It was fun. I hit a good tee shot on the first and made birdie. As soon as I did that, I had the pressure on Sam. I played well. I didn’t make any mistakes, didn’t make a bogey and made five birdies.

“When I was five up after five, I said to my caddie ‘wow, I’ve never done this before’. I just tried to keep going and stay aggressive as I knew it would be an incredible comeback if he came back. This is my third Amateur Championship, and I had missed the cut twice before, so this is the best I’ve ever done. The course suits my eye.”

Tom Sloman, England

“I thought I was going home, four down after 11. I was about to get on the phone actually and book my flight, but I hung on in there. Joe didn’t play too great coming in, and I played pretty well all day. I just didn’t hole any putts, until a couple late on, as he struggled. I got a little lucky at times, to be fair, but you take it when it comes.

“It’s a tough course, and I’ve not had my best game, but I’ve been grinding it out. I’ll need to get back on the range and hit more balls ahead of tomorrow.”

Entry is free of charge throughout the week for all spectators at Portmarnock while live scoring, news and video can be followed on The R&A’s website and social media platforms.

The Amateur Championship, Portmarnock Golf Club

Detailed scoring

First Round

G Manzoni (Ita) bt E Rousaud (Esp) at 25th;
R Sakane (Jpn) bt A Blomme (Swe) 2 holes;
S Broadhurst (Eng) bt G Huff (USA) 1 hole;
M Braadlie (Nor) bt S Mazzoli (It) 3&1;
L Aberg (Swe) bt N Barbieri (Aus) at 23rd;
R Mullarney (Galway) bt M Andersen (USA) 2&1;
M Lamb (Eng) bt J Volden (Nor) 3&2;
P Foulquie (Fra) bt D Hebenstreit (Aut) 3&2;
A Bergstrom (Swe) bt E Anger (Fra) 5&4;
MT Hansen (Den) bt J Ainscough (Eng) 3&2:
D Nyfjall (Swe) bt A Mata (Esp) 2 holes.

Second Round

T Plumb (Eng) bt A Del Ray Gonzalez (Sp) 7&5;
AG Frances (Den) bt K Tate (USA) 3&1;
D Micheluzzi (Aus) bt K Michel (Aus) 2 holes;
T Sloman (Eng) bt J Padgin (Eng) 1 hole;
B McKenzie (Eng) bt D Langley (Eng) 7&6;
C Sisk (USA) bt A Fuchs (Fr) 3&1;
G Folk (Aust) bt A Albers (Ger) 4&3;
V Norrman (Swe) bt B Hutchinson (Eng) 3&1;
K Kouwenaar (Neth) W Buhl (Nor) 3&2;
P Nyholm (Swe) bt C Madey (USA) 3&2;
M Schmid (Ger) bt S Done (Eng) 9&8;
A Flanagan (Eng) bt J Burnage (Eng) at 20th;
J Sugrue (Mallow) bt H Hall (Eng) 2&1;
C Palsson (Swe) bt T Hutchinson (USA) 3&2;
S Parriego Cornejo (Sp) bt A Ssouadi (Mor) 7&6;
J Robinson (Eng) bt T Nel (SA) 4&3;
R Leo (It) bt E McIntosh (Scot) 4&3;
E Walker (Scot) bt E Griffin (Waterford) 2 holes;
D Ravetto (Fr) bt J Armstrong (Aus) 3&1;
J Jolkkonen (Fin) bt C Rafferty (Dundalk) 1 hole;
G Manzoni (It) bt A Sorensen (Den) 2&1;
E Lopez Chacarra (Sp) 3 &2;
D O’Loughlin (Eng) bt S Broadhurst (Eng) at 19th;
S Scott (Scot) bt M Braadlie (Nor) 1 hole;
L Aberg (Swe) bt C McKinney (Sco) 19th;
R Mullarney (Galway) bt J Bolton (Eng) 2&1;
M Lamb (Eng) bt Y Premlall (SA) 3&2;
K Aoshima (USA) bt P Foulquie (Fra) 4&3;
B Gill (Eng) bt A Bergstrok (Swe) 4&2;
M Toft Hansen (Den) bt D Antonisse (Ned) 3&2;
S Burkinsky (Den) bt D Nyfjall (Swe) 2&1;
B Jones (Eng) bt J Axelsen (Den) 2 holes.

Third round (from 0730 at 9 minute intervals):

Plumb v Frances;
Micheluzzi v Sloman;
McKenzie v Sisk;
Folk v Norrman;
Kounwenaar v Nyholm;
Schmid v Flanagan;
Sugrue v Palsson;
Parriego Cornejo v Robinson;
Leo v Walker;
Cavetto v Jolkkonen;
Manzoni v Lopez Chacarra;
O'Loughlin v Scott;
Aberg v Mullarney;
Lamb v Aoshima;
Gill v Toft Hansen;
Burkinsky v Jones.

(Rd 4 from 1310).