Surprise as champion Murray crashes out

LIMERICK’S Pat Murray yesterday relinquished his grip on the Golfsure Irish Amateur Close Championship when failing to come through the 36 hole qualifying rounds in glorious conditions at Royal Dublin.

The highly impressive winner at Enniscrone 12 months ago was strangely at odds with his game over the weekend and rounds of 78 and 80 left him four strokes outside the cut-off mark.

Murray wasn’t the only big name to make his exit as he was joined on the sidelines by North of Ireland champion Wayne Telford (Rathmore). Telford suffered the biggest meltdown of all given that Saturday’s one under par 71 left him only a shot off the first round pace set by Richard O’Donovan of Lucan. However, he could do little right yesterday when he took 17 shots more in a round of 88.

One of the most commendable performances of the weekend came from Muskerry youngster Daniel Hallissey who was on the standby list and only got into the tournament because of a late cry-off. Inspired by this welcome break, the Munster Youths Interpro made light of a bogey five at the first on Saturday to reach the turn in even par 36 before coming home in a under 35 thanks to birdies at the long 11th and 14th with just one concession at the 12th. Hallissey went on to consolidate his place in the match play stages with a solid 75 yesterday for a comfortable qualifying total of 146.

A field comprised of all the best low handicap golfers in the country with the exception of Paul Cutler (the recent winner of the Lytham Trophy was granted an exemption into the match play rounds starting this morning on the strength of reaching the quarter-finals of the British Amateur Championship at Muirfield on Friday) enjoyed glorious weather conditions over the Bull Island links for the two days.

There was especially good scoring yesterday when Luke Lennox (Moyola Park), a young and long hitting member of the Irish Youths team last year, shot a superb six under par 66 to move to the top of the leader board. This was an improvement of ten shots on his first round effort and enabled him to claim the leading qualifier’s medal on the second 18 from Lucan’s Richard O’Donovan, who led the way on Saturday with a 70 before following up yesterday with a consistent 72.

Alan Dunbar, who captured the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin last month, went safely through as did Portmarnock’s James Fox. Also safely into this morning’s first round is West Waterford’s Seamus Power.

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