Murray soars to win with albatross at lucky 13th

When you are one of the championship favourites and things are going against you, there is always a good time to produce a shot out of the ordinary.

Murray soars to win with albatross at lucky 13th

That’s just what 2012 winner and tournament specialist Pat Murray did in his second round match against Keith Mackenzie from Bruntsfield in the Clare Coast Hotels South of Ireland at Lahinch yesterday.

Murray was one down standing on the 13th tee and unleashed a massive drive that was always going to end up on the green some 350 yards away. What nobody could have foreseen, however, was that it would end up in the hole for an albatross hole in one! One of golf’s true rarities (even though he had achieved the same on the 16th at Royal Dublin some years ago) obviously enabled Murray to level the match but he still had to go all the way to the first tie hole before clinching his place in this morning’s third round draw.

Not even the late withdrawal of major seeds Gary Hurley of West Waterford and Close champion John Ross Galbraith could detract from two days of highly enjoyable golf played over a Lahinch links in outstanding condition with players and fans revelling in the splendid conditions.

It was a day of mixed fortunes for former champions. John Greene of Portmarnock, the 1980 winner, went down 2 and 1 to David Byrne from Athenry, and coincidentally there was also a defeat for Kelan McDonagh, the man he defeated in the decider that year. McDonagh had turned three up on Alan Lowry, brother of Tour star, Shane, before the match gradually slipped from his grasp. Lowry, watched by his father Brendan, the former All-Ireland winning Offaly footballer, summoned up all the fighting qualities for which his family is renowned, to get home on the final green.

On the other hand, there was little trouble for Robbie Cannon and Stephen Walsh, champions in 2009 and 2011, who disposed of Greg Carew and Mike Kemmy respectively.

Arthur Pierse, from Tipperary, and three times Irish Close champion Eddie Power (formerly Tramore, nowadays Kilkenny), have been trying their luck in the “South” for longer than either would like to remember, but both turned the clock back yesterday in impressive fashion. Pierse defeated promising Dungarvan youngster Jack Leacy by 3 and 2 while Power, whose 14 year-old son Mark unsuccessfully made his debut in the championship in Saturday’s first round, proved too solid for Colin Cunningham (Carton House).

Late in the day, Ballybunion’s Ed Stack ended the hopes of Cork’s Gary O’Flaherty, another man who has been trying at Lahinch for many years. An epic struggle ended in favour of the Kerry golfer at the 2nd tie hole while last year’s beaten finalist Paul O’Hara (Kilkenny) went down to Limerick’s Michael O’Kelly, the runner-up in 1993. And in the last match of all, Chris Selfridge, who recently retained the North of Ireland Championship, held off a strong challenge when edging out Evan Farrell from Ardee on the 17th.

There was little luck for Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald (Dromoland Castle), who went down in Saturday’s first round to Ed Hickey of Shannon, while Cork All-Ireland hurler Eoghan Murphy lost yesterday to Tony Clare, also from Dromoland.

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