James Sugrue and Ronan Mullarney in the groove in Portmarnock

James Sugrue and Ronan Mullarney in the groove in Portmarnock
Mallow’s James Sugrue

Mallow’s James Sugrue and Ronan Mullarney from Galway produced outstanding performances at Portmarnock yesterday to keep Irish interest very much alive into this morning’s third round of the British Amateur Championship.

While Mullarney had to come through a preliminary round against American Mason Anderson before accounting for England’s Jake Bolton in the afternoon, Sugrue pulled off one of the biggest results of the day when proving too strong for the highly rated two-times European Palmer Cup player, English international and fellow Walker Cup panellist, Harry Hall.

Disappointingly, though, Dundalk star Caolan Rafferty, the current South and West of Ireland champion, lost a healthy lead in going down on the 18th to Jonatan Kolkkonen of Finland and there was also a final green defeat for Waterford’s Eanna Griffin at the hands of Scotland’s Euan Walker.

“I was delighted when I saw I was meeting Harry Hall because I knew how highly he was rated meaning that if I could beat him, it would be a pretty big scalp”, said a very pleased Sugrue.

“I played some really solid golf and was probably one or two under par which is always satisfying in championship golf over such a testing links as Portmarnock”.

It didn’t harm the 22 year-old Mallow golfer’s confidence that he hit cracking approach shots well within birdie distance at the first andsecond holes although he did admit to being “just a little livid” at failing to convert either chance. Hall duly took advantage by winning the fourth and even though Sugrue levelled at the sixth, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas student Hall with a long string of collegiate honours to his name in the US turned one up with a win at the ninth.

However, they were level again after 12 before Sugrue took command with a birdie two at the famous short 15th where he drilled a seven iron to eight feet and a four at the long 16th where he atoned for a wayward second by hitting a superb four iron from the rough to about 15 feet and was again on target with the putt.

Day three of the championship began with 12 matches involving the 24 players who had tied for the final places after 36 holes of qualifying and the first match on the links proved a real cracker, Italian Giovanni Manzini needing to go all the way to the 25th before getting the better of Spain’s Eduard Rousaud.

And the session also heralded promising things for the home contingent when Ronan Mullarney defeated American Mason Anderson on the 17th. It was a fine win for the Galwegian given that Anderson shot a four under par 68 in his qualifier at Portmarnock.

Mullarney then proceeded to prove it was far from a fluke when he withstood a strong challenge from Jake Bolton (Ogbourne Downs) for another 17th green success.

Irish results, first round: R Mullarney (Galway) bt M Anderson (USA) 2 and 1.

Second round: J Sugrue (Mallow) bt H Hall (West Cornwall) 2 and 1. E Walker (Kilmarnock Barassie) bt E Griffin (Waterford) 2 holes. J Jolkkonen (Finland) bt C Rafferty (Dundalk) 1 hole. Mullarney bt J Bolton (Ogbourne Downs) 2 and 1.

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