The 20-year old Waterford man cruised to an emphatic eight and seven win over Castlebar’s Shane O’Connor in the first round, but he needed to dig deep to get through by one hole in the afternoon, as Rathmore’s Ben Best holed putt after putt on the greens.
Best pulled off the biggest shock of the morning, when he beat international and Irish Amateur Open strokeplay champion Colm Campbell by one hole.
Dawson was happy to see him off by the same margin in the afternoon and set up a last-16 meeting with Castle’s Alex Gleeson.
“I was playing really nice and I could see myself finishing off the game,” said Dawson. “I was two up through 12 holes and Ben started rolling in putts — a 35/40 footer on 13, a nine footer on 14 and a 15 footer on 15.
“I just said, ‘do you have a hoover on the end of that putter, or what?’ He was a gentleman to play against and we had a really good sporting game that I just managed to win.”
Laughing, Dawson added: “I was delighted he knocked out Colm Campbell for me this morning. Although I wanted to play Collie to get a bit of revenge on him after the quarters of the South.
“Unfortunately, that won’t be. So I have to get revenge on Mr Gleeson tomorrow now after he beat me on the 19th in the semi-finals of the Close last year in Tramore. Hopefully, we will have a good game tomorrow. He rolled in a 25 footer to beat me, so hopefully I will have the hoover tomorrow.”
Dawson is in the bottom half of the draw and could face Colin Fairweather or defending champion Tiaran McLarnon in the afternoon, as St Andrew Links Trophy winner Conor O’Rourke faces Geoff Lenehan following his two and one win over Boys international Thomas Mulligan.
There’s huge quality in the top half too, with the in-form Jack Pierse from Portmarnock taking on Mark Morrissey and Kinsale’s Cathal Butler facing a dangerous Jake Whelan from Newlands.
Pierse, 25 — a nephew of former Walker Cup player Arthur — won the Kerry Scratch Cup and played in the final group at both the East and the Mullingar Scratch Cup, where he was second.
He was in stunning form as he beat Michael McCormick eight and seven the morning, covering the front nine in an estimated six-under 29, before making five birdies in the first 10 holes to go four up en route to a two and one win over Castlerock’s Aaron Kearny in the afternoon. “I think if I can keep playing the way I am playing, I am not going to be far away,” said Pierse.
Leading qualifier John Ross Galbraith looks like the man to beat after he completed comfortable wins over Bushfoot’s Owen Crooks and Galway’s Cathal Nolan.
“I was four under this morning for 17 and around three under this afternoon,” said the 2014 champion. “I am playing solid golf and I will be hard to beat. I really like the course, which I’m seeing for the first time this week. “