Kinsale teenager John Murphy led a quintet of Irishmen safely through to the matchplay stages of the 123rd Amateur Championship at Royal Aberdeen and Murcar Links.
The Maynooth University student has been in sparkling form in recent weeks with his dramatic St Andrews Links Trophy triumph, while his one-under-par 69 at Murcar Links yesterday ensured he was the leading Irishman in stroke play qualifying.
Following on from his opening three-over 74 at Royal Aberdeen, Murphy shot out of the blocks with a birdie on two and a stunning eagle three at the par-five fourth hole.
He dropped three strokes over the next two holes but recovered with back-to-back birdies straight after the turn before picking up another bogey on 15.
The round left him with a 36-hole aggregate of 143 — two over — and 10 shots back on South African Wilco Nienaber, who led the 77 qualifiers on eight-under with two excellent rounds of 66 and 67.
Also through qualifying is Irish Amateur Open champion Robin Dawson — the highest-ranked Irish player in the world amateur rankings (35).
The Tramore man finished three over after two rounds, signing for a one-under 70 at Royal Aberdeen yesterday having opened with a 74 on the other course.
It might have been an even better round for Dawson, who was four under after 12 having reeled off five birdies following a bogey at the first. However, he dropped three strokes on 14 and after another birdie on 16 ended with a bogey.
Joining Murphy and Dawson in the matchplay stages are Conor Purcell (Portmarnock), James Sugrue (Mallow), and Rowan Lester (Hermitage). The trio were all five over after their two rounds (146) and inside the matchplay cut mark — which fell at six over par.
However, there was disappointment for the other nine Irishmen, who all failed to make it through stroke play qualifying.
One of those was Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty, the leading qualifier and silver medal winner at last year’s Amateur.
Naas pair Jonathan Yates and Robert Brazill, along with Peter O’Keeffe (Douglas), Alex Gleeson (Castle), Ronan Mullarney (Galway), Mark Power (Kilkenny), Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene), and Jake Whelan (Newlands) were the others missing out.
133: (-8) W Nienaber 66 67
135: (-6) V Hovland 70 65
138: (-3) S Meek 69 69
143: (+2) J Murphy 74 69
144: (+3) R Dawson 74 70
146: (+5) C Purcell 74 72; R Lester 71 75; J Sugrue 73 73
Other Irish (Missed cut)
149: (+8) P O’Keeffe 75 74
150: (+9) J Yates 77 73
151: (+10) A Gleeson 78 73
152: (+11) R Mullarney 78 74
154: (+13) M Power 79 75; C Rafferty 78 76; R Brazill 78 76
156: (+15) T McLarnon 81 75
167: (+26) J Whelan 86 81
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