Monday 23 October 2017

McDermott revels in tough conditions to seize lead at Royal Dublin

Sligo golfer Gary McDermott leads at the halfway stage in the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin
Sligo golfer Gary McDermott leads at the halfway stage in the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin

Brian Keogh

Gary McDermott drew on a decade of experience and showed the mental strength of a potential champion when he birdied two of his last three holes to grab the halfway lead in the Irish Amateur Open at a relentless Royal Dublin.

As many of his peers complained about what they considered the unfairness of the course in a stiff southerly crosswind that gusted to 30 mph at times, the 32-year-old from Co Sligo produced another of his grinding performances to add a one-under 71 to his opening 69 to lead two strokes from Scotland's Jamie Savage (68) and the Isle of Man's Tom Gandy (71) on four-under-par 140.

"Any time you are better to par around Royal Dublin, any sort of day, you are walking off with a smile on your face," said bank official McDermott, who now plays out of Carton House. "I just dug deep and managed to hit a couple of good shots at the end that added a bit of a gloss to the round."

Still waiting for his first amateur 'major,' the former international raced out of the blocks when he birdied the first two holes, bogeyed the fourth and then two-putted the sixth for birdie to turn for home three clear of the field on five-under.

EARLY

"If you are going to pick up anything, you try to do it early," he said after playing the tough back nine in just one over. "I accepted that the back nine was probably playing on average of two or three over par. So, I would have been more than happy with anything in or around par."

After bogeys at the 10th, 13th and 15th, he finished strongly, hitting a wedge to 15 feet to set up a birdie at the 16th before firing a seven-iron to 10 feet at the 17th and rolling in the putt.

Refusing to look too far ahead and drawing on 10 years of experience at this level, he added: "It is two rounds of golf. That's all. Two good rounds. The clock starts again tomorrow and we will just try and grind something out again."

While officials moved up 13 tees, reducing the course by 404 yards to 6,893 yards, just eight players in the 120-strong field broke par, with the field averaging 77.1 in the race to make the cut for the top 50 and ties after today's third round.

Glaswegian Savage (19) threatened to tear the course apart when he raced to six-under through 16 holes, but he found the lateral hazard wide of the 17th and then missed the 18th green to finish with two bogeys for a best-of-the-week 68 as Gandy played the last eight holes in three-under for a fine 71.

Irish Close champion Cormac Sharvin from Ardglass made four birdies in his first six holes as he shot 70 to share sixth on level-par 144 with West of Ireland champion Jack Hume of Naas, who shot a second successive 72.

Irish Independent

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