Yates impresses to lead Close charge
Jonathan Yates produced a sparkling display at Tramore yesterday to lead the field in the first qualifying round of the AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship.
The Naas player fired a five-under-par 67 to head a five-strong group of players by two strokes and is in pole position to grab a top slot in the knockout draw.
Among those on 69 is Tullamore's Stuart Grehan, who is enjoying a marvellous summer, while Alex Gleeson of Castle is also on that mark.
An eagle two on the 337-yard 12th was the highlight of the Yates round and his only hiccups came at the short 10th and long 16th where he dropped strokes.
Yates had four birdies on his way to the turn in 32 and came home in 35. Grehan was joined on 69 by Robin Dawson, Eoin Arthurs, Gavin Smyth and Gleeson.
The experienced Eugene Smith and Daniel Holland returned scores of 73 to stay in the hunt for places in the match-play format. Co Louth teenager Thomas Mulligan, who qualified for the knockout phase of the British Boys Championship last week, is on 74 but Geoff Lenehan had an opening 76. The field is without defending champion John-Ross Galbraith who helped Ireland retain their Home International Title last week and three other top players, Paul Dunne, Stuart Hurley and Cormac Sharvin. After today's second round the leading 64 go forward to the matchplay stages.
Meanwhile, Walker Cup skipper Nigel Edwards jetted out of the US Amateur Championship in Chicago last night with his Walker Cup side in his head and a huge level of confidence in a Great Britain and Ireland victory at Royal Lytham and St Annes next month.
The Welshman will be captain for the third time from September 12-13 and while there is a great deal of anticipation in Ireland to see if he picks four or even five or six Irish players, his body language and wry smile suggests a happy outcome for the boys in green.
"I think we will do just fine," Edwards said, steeling his jaw. "Why? Because we will have a very good team that will play passionately for each other. They want to be in it to win it and I think the golf course will suit us."
Having had dinner on Sunday night with Open Championship hero Paul Dunne, Gary Hurley and Cormac Sharvin as well as the Scottish and English players who were bidding to come through last night's second strokeplay qualifying round, Edwards confessed he has "a good idea" about the make-up of his team.
"Usually eight pick themselves and there are a couple going for the last two spots," Edwards said. With Gavin Moynihan, the sole survivor from 2013, considered automatic, Ireland's representation could be a record five if Jack Hume or Dermot McElroy get the nod on Monday.