Local heroes aim to end drought
Published 01/08/2016 | 02:30
Fifty-four years is a long time to wait for a home winner but the drought could finally end today in the Mullingar Electrical Scratch Trophy.
Home players Gareth Carr and Liam Grehan might be five strokes adrift of Galway's Ronan Mullarney on two under par but they have the local knowledge and the support to set a tough target for the Connacht interprovincial after today's final 36 holes.
Mullarney defied blustery conditions at the James Braid gem, carding five birdies in a morning 69, then adding another five in a four under par 68 to set the pace on seven under par as Carr, a son of former Dublin footballer Tommy Carr, shot rounds of 68 and 74 as Grehan went 70-72.
A scholarship student at Maynooth University, Mullarney leads by three strokes from Portmarnock's Jack Pierse, who started with a 68 but could only manage a 72 in the afternoon to remain on four under.
South of Ireland runner-up Rowan Lester from Hermitage is lurking just four shots behind on three under after rounds of 71 and 70 and he's looking for a big final day so he can to head to the Home Internationals in Scotland and then to college in the US with a win under his belt.
"It would be nice to get a win," said 20-year-old Lester, who has signed up with Texas Wesleyan University in Forth Worth.
"And it would also be nice to hole a few putts because it was really tough today with the pins on little knuckles and shelves.
"I haven't had a win since I played Boys' events but last week gave me a lot of confidence so I believe I will get a win sooner or later.
"I just have to keep playing the way I am playing and it will happen."
Lester didn't lose any sleep over losing the South of Ireland final, where Portmarnock's Conor Purcell was the clear winner.
But the champion in Lahinch struggled to find his best stuff in the midlands and carded rounds of 73 and 82 to miss the 11 over par cut for the top 51 on a countback.