Alex Gleeson dreams of landing major

Castle’s Alex Gleeson is dreaming of landing his maiden “major” after breaking the heart of Tramore’s Robin Dawson for the second year running in the AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship.

The 22 year old beat his international team-mate 3 and 2 in wet and windy conditions in the third round at Ballyliffin’s Glashedy Links.

But even after he crushed Knock’s Colin Fairweather 5 and 3 in the quarter-finals the Connacht interprovincial is taking nothing for granted as he takes on former Boys international star Peter Kerr in the second semi-final this morning.

“I’ve come close to winning a senior championship before but I am not really thinking about that,” said the Castle international, who lost to Tiarnan McLarnon in last year’s final at Tramore.

A former South of Ireland semi-finalist, he added: “It would be nice to give myself a chance now and go out and play good golf against Peter in the morning.” Kerr, 18, won last year’s Ulster Boys title and following a brace of impressive 5 and 3 wins over Belvoir Park’s Gareth Lappin and Portmarnock’s Geoff Lenehan, he clearly knows his way around the Glashedy Links.

“The formula is just hitting fairways and greens,” said Kerr, who heads to St Andrews University to study chemistry in 10 days’ time.

“I have definitely exceeded expectations so far this week, but I want to keep going as far as I can.” Dawson was disappointed to lose to Gleeson for the second year running having fallen to him on the 19th in the semi-finals on his home course last year.

“The seventh was the turning point,” 20-year old Dawson said. “I hit a five iron into a gale to five feet and Alex holed from 30 feet and I missed. Then he birdied 8 as well to go all square, and the back nine was scrappy in that bad weather.” Aiming for a Walker Cup spot next year, Dawson knows he has to start turning his good play into wins to have a chance of making that team.

“I am still only a baby but I feel like I’ve been around for ages,” said Dawson, who is heading into his final year of Equine Business studies at Maynooth University.

“I’d like to push for Walker Cup but I will have to get a big win internationally for that.

“I am always knocking on the door. I just need a break here or there and one day it will open. Golf is such fine margins.” Leading qualifier and 2014 champion John-Ross Galbraith is the favourite to win again and maintain his 100 percent record in the “Close” having missed it last year.

Set to meet Newlands’ Jake Whelan after beating Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty 3 and 2 and Delgany’s Marc Nolan 2 and 1, the Whitehead international said: “I like being favourite. And I’d like to go two from two in the Close. It would be quite special.

“It was an average season for me until we won the Home Internationals last week, so to win the Close here tomorrow would be the perfect way to finish off the year.”

Whelan will be no pushover and after beating Kinsale’s Cathal Butler 3 and Mount Wolseley’s Mark Morrissey 2 and 1, he said: “It’ll be a different pressure tomorrow, I’ve never been in that situation before.

“But it’ll be a good experience, whatever happens.”


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