John-Ross Galbraith aims to maintain perfect ‘Close’ record

Whitehead’s John-Ross Galbraith claimed the leading qualifier’s silver medal at Ballyliffin and insisted he’s aiming to maintain his 100% record in the AIG Irish Amateur Close by winning it for the second time.

The 22-year old international recovered from a double bogey on the second at the stunning and testing Glashedy Links in Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula firing six birdies and dropping just one more shot as he added a 69 to his opening 71 to lead the qualifiers on four under par 140.

The Co Antrim star, one of Ireland’s Home Internationals heroes at Nairn last weekend, finished a stroke ahead of Tramore’s Robin Dawson (70-71) with overnight leader Thomas Mulligan (69-73) from Co Louth the only other player to finish the 36-hole qualifying race in the red on two under par.

“I’ve only played the Close once and won it once!” joked Galbraith, who triumphed at Seapoint in 2014, and hopes one day to become a professional.

“I’m just being a wee bit more professional about things, playing in a few pro events has taught me a lesson, how the boys go about their business.

“I’ve really tried to implement that in my game, more practice, doing everything a bit more in control, I’m just trying to get a bit more professional about my golf.

“You have to do that if you want to get somewhere in this game. I’m going to stay amateur next year and try to push for Walker Cup.”

The cut fell at 12 over par 156, and exactly 64 players on that mark or better, avoiding the need for playoffs after the countback condition was abandoned in terms of sudden-death for this year’s West and Close championships.

Following slow play difficulties in the firs round, the GUI implemented a ‘ready golf’ policy for the first time yesterday.

Round times were reduced by up to 45 minutes compared to round one, averaging around four hours and 15 minutes, which was 12 minutes quicker that the ‘time par’ set out by the Championship director.

‘Ready golf’ is a commonly used term which indicates that players should play when they are ready to do so, rather than adhering strictly to the “farthest from the hole plays first” stipulation in the Rules of Golf.

Dawson said: “Ready golf is good when you’re hitting into the greens but for me, if I make a birdie, I like to have the honour at the next tee. It’s nice to get the reward for it.

“Pace of play has improved a huge amount this year. Referees are being a lot stricter on it and players are aware that they have to go around in a decent time, which helps.”

Dawson is hoping to break his own championship duck having lost to Alex Gleeson in the semi-finals on the 19th at his home club 12 months ago.

“Hopefully I can go two matches more this year,” said Dawson, who lost to Colm Campbell in the q-quarter-finals of the South of Ireland Championship at Lahinch.

“I was playing really well at the South and I came up against a very hot Colm Campbell. You just need to get your opportunity and take it.”


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