Chemistry student Peter Kerr is hoping he can come up with the magic formula and win his maiden championship after leading the qualifiers for the matchplay stages of the AIG Amateur Close at Galway.
The 19-year old reached the semi-finals at Ballyliffin last year, falling to eventual champion Alex Gleeson at the 18th after a brilliant battle.
Time will tell if it’s his moment to shine but after carding a second successive 69 to win the Silver Medal on a countback from Co Sligo’s David Brady, he looks like he’ll be a tough nut to crack for Galway Bay’s Michael Shiel in today’s first round.
“Last year’s Close was a great experience for me,” Kerr said of his experience at Ballyliffin. “It was the first time that I had done well in one of the big men’s championships.
“It was a surprise to me because I didn’t have a lot of form going into it. I putted very well in stroke play and my game got better and better as the week went on.
“Hopefully I can do the same tomorrow.
“The main thing I learned last year was that I didn’t have to play my A game to get that far.”
After making four birdies and three bogeys in his 69 yesterday, he added: “I’m pleased enough.
“I’ve hit the ball off the tee really well. I’ve probably hit 28 greens for the two rounds, which I’m really pleased with.”
Brady followed his opening 67 with a 71 to finish alongside Kerr on two under par and having reached the quarter-finals of the “West” at Easter, he will not be afraid to stand up and fight for a major title.
The leading pair finished one stroke clear of Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty, who was Ireland’s leading points scorer on his debut in Home Internationals last week, as exactly 64 players qualified for today’s first round of matchplay combat on eight over par 148.
East of Ireland champion Reece Black (149) and two-time Irish Boys champion Mark Power (152) where the two biggest victims.
But while experienced Warrenpoint international Colm Campbell will fancy his chances of a third championship win after qualifying with ease on one-over after rounds of 70 and 71, Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty is clearly in superb form.
Gunning for a maiden championship he says would put the icing on a great year, the 24-year old qualified in third place after rounds of 71 and 68 and he admitted that his confidence is at an all time high after finishing as top scorer for Ireland in the side that captured a fourth successive Home Internationals last week.
“Confidence is probably the big difference this year,” said Rafferty, who was the leading qualifier in the British Amateur and the North of Ireland.
“Last week gave me that extra little bit of belief too, getting the big experience with the lads and realising that I’m not that far away from everybody so hopefully I can keep going this week and get the win.”
Rafferty’s confidence is such that he came to the 18th needing an eagle two to win the Silver Medal and came within a whisker of holing out from 113 yards but still made birdie.
“I was laughing and joking that if I hole this, I pip leading qualifier,” he said. “It got up to the hole and then just spun away. The boys said it was very close. It spun down the hill to 20 feet and I just rolled it in.”
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