Thursday 27 October 2016

McBride eyes gold standard after losing out on silver

Brian Keogh In Lahinch

Published 22/07/2016 | 02:30

After going out to Keith Egan last year McBride wants to win.
After going out to Keith Egan last year McBride wants to win.

The Island's Paul McBride was denied his second successive silver medal by a shot but he's got his sights set the big prize - the gold medal awarded to the winner of the Pierse Motors-sponsored South of Ireland Amateur Championship.

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Newlands' Jake Whelan, 21, added a 70 to his opening 68 to lead the qualifiers on six-under 138, one stroke better than McBride (69), Castle's Alex Gleeson (69) and Mallow's Noel McCarthy (70) as the cut for the top 64 qualifiers fell at eight-over par 152.

"I love it here," said 20-year-old Wake Forest University star McBride, who endured the frustration of losing on the 20th in the semi-finals of the British Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl last month.

"I love this. I love the atmosphere around the town. The people around the tee-box here and the 18th.

"The tournaments over there in the US are amazing. The way they are run and the golf courses they are played on are excellent. It's like here. This is a great event and the golf course this week is perfect. That's why it's becoming so much more popular. Everyone wants to play."

Taking part is wonderful but after going out to Keith Egan last year - the Carton House player shot 68 over what was essentially the white course yesterday to qualify fourth on four-under alongside John Ross Galbraith - McBride wants to win.

"My last win was Ulster Boys three years ago so I want to win," McBride said. "I am not getting frustrated but it 's just annoying.

"I've come close a few times and felt like I've been playing well enough to win but haven't won. I guess, I'll just wait for it to happen. That's the way this game is."

On a day when southerly winds gusted to 25mph by midday and some afternoon starters were hit by a brief but torrential downpour as they tackled a shortened course, first round leader Whelan backed up his score with a 70 that also featured three bogeys and a double-bogey six at the tough 14th.

"I'm happy with that," said Whelan, who holed the winning putt to give Maynooth its first AIG Irish Senior Cup win last year but no longer attends the college. "I played well and holed a few putts."

As for life away from university, he said: "I wasn't enjoying the college course as much as I would have liked so I have taken time out and so I took a job the post office so I can have the money to be able to go out and play the championships."

Gleeson hasn't won a senior championship either, though he has had considerable success in Intervarsity golf. "I am playing nicely," he said. "I'm hitting a lot of good shots and I getting myself out of trouble by holing a lot of putts."

Life experience also counts and 65-year-old Arthur Pierse will be in action in the last 64 following rounds of 75 and 73 on a day when Delgany's Marc Nolan posted a best-of-day 67 to qualify tied seventh with Cairndhu's Stephen Watts on three-under 141, one behind Egan (68) and John Ross Galbraith (69).

Pierse's nephews Jack and Robbie also made it after some second-round heroics.

On a day when Jack played his last eight holes in five-under to add a 69 his 79 for 148, Robbie followed an 82 with a 70 to be one of just two players to make it on 152.

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