Inspired Arthur Pierse on a charge at Tramore

As a player accomplished enough to win the prestigious Mullingar Scratch Trophy over the August Bank holiday weekend and having seen his brother Shane thrill the golfing world both as an amateur and professional, Alan Lowry is no stranger to outstanding deeds and shot making on the golf course.

But even he could only shake his head in wonder at the manner in which he was bundled out of the AIG Irish Close Championship in the first round at Tramore yesterday.

Lowry was up against Robbie Pierse, a nephew of former Walker Cup star Arthur Pierse and a son of one-time regular championship player Morgan, and would have been deemed by the majority to be a good bet to come out on top.

Instead, he ran into a blitz of birdies from the inspired 22-year-old Grange golfer who raced to the turn in a superb seven under to stand 6 up on an opponent who himself was on the right side of par.

Pierse duly finished the match off at the 13th and that’s where he also polished off Alan Thomas in the 2nd round. If preserving energy in the early rounds of this marathon event — the finalists on Saturday afternoon will have played eight rounds in five days —counts for anything, then Pierse has already stolen something of a march on the rest of the field.

Pierse’s opponent this morning is the country’s latest young sensation, 16-year-old Thomas Mulligan from Co Louth, who celebrated his inclusion on the British & Irish Jacques Leglise boys team on Monday by equalling the Tramore course record of 66 on Wednesday. Now he is through to the last 16 of the Close in his first appearance in the championship after wins over Muskerry’s Ronan Twomey and Connacht’s Stephen Healy and looking very much at ease in much more experienced company.

Leading qualifier Robbie Cannon also came safely through, edging out Delgany’s Simon Bryan on the home green in the morning before disposing of Aaron Grant at the 14th. He now meets Ardee’s Eugene Smith who caused the biggest upset of the tournament so far by beating East and South of Ireland champion Stuart Grehan of Tullamore. He overturned arrears of 3 holes after 12 to win the next three and eventually prevail at the 20th.

Hopes of father and son duo Eddie and Kevin Power reaching the third round were dashed when dad lost a tie hole thriller to Ben Murray (Waterford Castle). Power found himself some 30 feet from the hole in three shots before he showed typical fighting qualities by sinking the par putt only for Murray to find the target from 15 feet for a decisive birdie. Kevin Power, another 16-year-old, did extremely well to bring Daniel Holland, who had earlier eliminated former champion Pat Murray, to the 17th and he is obviously another young man to look out for in the future.

Just as a fine crowd watched Power senior and Ben Murray battle it out on the 19th, there is the certainty of another sizable gallery this morning for the all-Waterford clash of Murray and Robin Dawson.

The latter continues to look the part and needed to play only 29 holes yesterday in sweeping past David Reddan and last year’s South of Ireland champion Stuart Bleakley.

Although entered from Faithlegg, Dawson plays his senior cup golf with Tramore and is clearly very much at home on the seaside lay-out that he knows so intimately.

Dublin club Castle is enjoying an excellent championship with Daniel Holland and Alex Gleeson through to the third round and poised to meet in this afternoon’s quarter-final.

Mark Shanahan is a very talented left hander entered from Castlemartyr and perfectly capable of trimming Holland’s sails.

Gleeson is up against Simon McConnell of Ballyclare at the bottom of the draw while today’s programme gets under way with the All-Ulster clash of Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) and Tiarnan McLarnan (Massereene) at 7. 30 a.m. It is planned to start the quarter-finals at 12. 30pm.

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