Paul McBride is the only Irish star left standing in the 122nd Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s on the Kent coast.
The Island golfer beat Lytham Trophy winner Jack Singh Brar by one hole to secure a quarter-final clash with Englishman Harry Ellis.
After taking the first two holes McBride produced a professional performance to seal victory. England’s Singh Brar fought back but McBride never let go of his lead, the Irishman did lose the 15th, which closed the gap to one hole, but McBride still edged to victory.
Walker Cup hopeful McBride had earlier beaten Jimmy Stanger (USA) by two holes but Caolan Rafferty’s tournament is over after losing to Argentine Alejandro Tosti in the last 32, but he left his mark on the competition.
The Dundalk star was the top qualifier after shooting a record-equalling 10-under 62 at Prince’s on day two and then eased past Frenchman David Ravetto 5&3 in their last-64 clash.
That victory saw him paired with world number 25 Tosti for a place in the last 16 and Rafferty got off to a great start, going one-up within the first three holes before doubling his lead at the turn. But he lost his grip on the match thereafter with Tosti clawing his way back to level the match with just three holes to play.
Rafferty snatched control back as he led by one hole with just the 18th to go but Tosti once again fought back to level the score. The duo could not be separated in an epic encounter as they continued to match each other until, after thunder and lightning caused a delay to proceedings, Tosti edged through on the 25th.
Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan followed Rafferty out of the competition after a similarly narrow defeat to Scotland’s Ryan Lumsden. After a tight match where both players wrestled for the lead, it was all-square ahead of the final hole, which Lumsden managed to take to send Grehan crashing out.
Meanwhile, teenager Mairead Martin topped the leaderboard after stroke play qualifying in the Irish Women’s Close Championship at Mullingar yesterday.
The Kanturk starlet, who made the last 32 of the Ladies British Amateur Championship last week at Pyle & Kenfig, Wales, opened with a one-over 75 and followed that up with an impressive one-under 73 to finish on 148, level with par.
Sara Cunningham, of Ennis, and Lisburn’s Paula Grant, who was the leading stroke play qualifier at the Ladies British Amateur, were only one stroke behind with 149. Ciara Casey (Hermitage) and Ballinrobe’s Shannon Burke, who led the field after the first round of qualifying, made up the top five with scores of 150.
Reigning champion Olivia Mehaffey (Royal County Down) did not compete but last year’s runner-up Louise Coffey (Malone) went through to the match play stage with 158 (79, 79) along with Castletroy’s Chloe Ryan (77, 81).
Sinead Sexton (Lahinch), Mary Dowling (New Ross) and Maria Dunne (Skerries) all finished inside the top 32 comfortably but with the cut mark at 161, Killarney’s Valerie Clancy only just snuck in with 160 (82, 78).
However, 2008 and 2009 champion Lisa Maguire (Slieve Russell) had a day to forget as she hit rounds of 85 and 82 to finish way below the cut zone on 167, 19-over par. Milltown’s Georgia Carr also missed out.
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