Defiant Olivia Mehaffey keeps Ireland in medal hunt

Olivia Mehaffey defied a stiff southerly wind to give the girls in green a shot at a medal in the World Amateur Team Championships at a wind-blown Carton House.

Defiant Olivia Mehaffey keeps Ireland in medal hunt

By Brian Keogh

Olivia Mehaffey defied a stiff southerly wind to give the girls in green a shot at a medal in the World Amateur Team Championships at a wind-blown Carton House.

The hosts looked down and out after a disappointing day two performance left them 13 shots off the medal places in the Espirito Santo Trophy.

But a frustrated Mehaffey (20) blew off steam with an early morning gym session and came out fighting, blasting five birdies in a two-under 70 on the tough Montgomerie Course that included three in her last four holes.

After the round initially I needed some space, I put my headphones in and went and practised by myself,” Mehaffey said of her determination to overcome Thursday’s disappointment.

“Then I had a wee chat with [coaches] Dave [Kearney] and Donal [Scott] who were trying to get me to focus more on the next two days.

“So it feels good to turn it around. I think we were all a bit more relaxed and ready to go out and fight today.”

With Annabel Wilson battling her way to level par 72 and Paula Grant’s gutsy 73 discarded, Ireland’s two-under third round aggregate was the best of any nation in the top-10, catapulting them from tenth to solo fourth on four-under par.

They might be 15 shots behind the United States, who lead by five shots on 19-under par from defending champions South Korea.

But while they are also nine strokes adrift of third-placed Japan, they could still challenge for a bronze medal with two hot final rounds on the more accessible, par-73 O’Meara Course today.

“We’ve seen a 64, we’ve seen a 65,” Mehaffey said of Ireland’s chances of mounting a final day charge today. “There’s no reason to believe we can’t do that.

We are good when we are being aggressive, and you can do that on O’Meara. I am personally very exited, and I am sure the girls are as well.

“A couple of low ones tomorrow and we will see what happens.”

She certainly proud of the way she fought back yesterday to give Ireland what is still only a slim chance of a medal.

“I had a lot of fight today,” Mehaffey said after making back-to-back eight footers for birdies at the 17th and 18th to erase the disappointment of her closing double bogey for a level par 73 at the O’Meara on Thursday.

“Even this morning I wasn’t quite over it so I went to the gym to let a wee bit of frustration out, and I came out fighting.

“I wanted to do a good job, and I am pretty proud of how I played today. O’Meara tomorrow and a couple of low ones from any of us and definitely we can shoot up the leaderboard and have a good chance.”

Non-playing captain Danielle McVeigh believes that playing smart, aggressive golf can still pay off.

“We just need to score as low as we possibly can, who knows what’s going to happen,” she said. “If the players can stand up and commit to each and every shot tomorrow, I think we’ll be in a good spot.

Meanwhile South Africa’s Christian Bezuidenhout claimed the halfway lead in the Made in Denmark event as local favourite Thorbjorn Olesen narrowly kept his Ryder Cup destiny in his own hands.

Bezuidenhout added a 65 to his opening 66 for a halfway total of 13 under par, two shots ahead of first-round leader Jonathan Thomson and Lee Westwood, with another Englishman Sam Horsfield another stroke adrift.

Olesen occupies the final automatic Ryder Cup qualifying place and can make certain of a debut with a top-six finish, but had to par the final three holes of his second round of 69 simply to make the cut on the mark of two under par.

England’s Eddie Pepperell (69) and Matt Fitzpatrick (68) need to win the event to have a chance of dislodging Olesen and head into the weekend eight and nine shots off the lead respectively.

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