Sunday 17 December 2017

Elated Fox Taking each game as it comes after victory sets up all-Irish clash with Dunbar

Portmarnock's James Fox clinched one of the most significant victories of his career in reaching the third round of the 115th Amateur Championship at Muirfield yesterday.

The 27-year-old amateur overcame Scotland's Paul Shields by 2&1 -- and declared his delight at making progress.

"It is just great to be here at one of the finest courses and I am taking every game as it comes," said Fox, who admitted his achievements in the game have been few and far between.

The financial adviser, who came 15th in the Welsh Open stroke-play championship and 20th in the recent East of Ireland title event, was never down against Shields.

He planted a seven-iron 15 feet from the pin at the opening hole and sunk the putt for a birdie three to take an immediate lead.

Fox, who has been to Tour school three times without success, was still one ahead at the turn, but was pegged back when he dropped a stroke at the 10th. However, he rifled a four-iron to 12 feet at the 13th and made the putt to regain the advantage. He finished off the game when Shields lost a ball in thick rough at the 17th.

This morning, Fox faces Rathmore's Alan Dunbar in an all-Irish duel after Dunbar recorded a 2&1 triumph over American Michael Buttacavoli.

Dunbar, the reigning Irish stroke-play champion, was one up at the turn. He increased his lead at the 12th, but lost the 15th by three- putting.

Dunbar went two up again at the 16th when he blasted a seven-iron to within eight feet of the stick. He halved the next to make it through to the last 32.

Paul Cutler, the Lytham Trophy winner from Portstewart, also made it into round three, when he romped to a 4&3 victory over Royal Blackheath's Jonathan Bell.

This morning, he faces 20-year-old former Scottish Boys champion Michael Stewart in what should be a cracking match.

Neither East of Ireland champion Cian Curley nor Andrew Hogan had byes into the second round and both fell at the first hurdle, going out to Portuguese players Tiago Rodrigues and Jose Maria Joia respectively.

Top qualifier Tommy Fleetwood and British Boys champion Tom Lewis both progressed into round three.

Irish Independent

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