Saturday 14 December 2019

Hume shines through fog to storm into 'South' last 16

Liam Kelly

THE match-play action got under way yesterday in the South of Ireland championship after a fog-disrupted second qualifying round at Lahinch, and the star of the day was 17-year-old Jack Hume of Rathsallagh.

The youngest competitor, making his debut in the 'South', young master Hume came to notice last year by winning the four GUI provincial boys' championships -- a feat previously achieved only by Raymie Burns in 1989.

Hume eased into the knockout series comfortably, scoring 73-35 for level-par 108 in the qualifying rounds that were shortened to 27 holes.

And then yesterday, he romped his way around the venerable Lahinch fairways to oust seasoned campaigners Michael Buggy of Castlecomer by 5&4 and Galway's Joe Lyons, a former international and the 2007 West of Ireland champion, by 6&5.

The teenager, who plays off plus-1 handicap, wasn't shouting the odds after taking his place in the last 16. "I just played fairly solid in both matches," he said.

Hume has been furthering his golf education in the Darren Clarke Golf School, based near Portrush, since last September.

This facility gives talented youngsters the chance to hone their game in a full-time golfing environment, while also continuing their academic studies.

Clarke has taken an interest in Hume's golf, and the Naas native sees his attendance at the school as a step towards his ambition of becoming a Tour player.

Hume's second-round opponent Lyons was the anchor man on the crucial last day of the men's inter-provincials last week for the victorious Connacht team which won the title for the first time in 28 years.

He, too, had to be fatigued but was making no excuses.

"That was as good a performance as I've seen in a while, and he's a nice fella as well," he said. "He made no mistakes and I just didn't turn up."

Another hero of Connacht, Kelan McDonagh from Athlone, got his second wind after the inter-pros, and had victories over Declan McKiernan (Lahinch) by one hole, and 2&1 against Gareth Bohill of County Louth.

McDonagh (21), who won the Irish Youths title in 2009 and the Mullingar Scratch Trophy last year, goes to China in two weeks' time for the World Student Games.

He was runner-up in the 'South' last year to Carlow's John Greene, who failed to qualify this time, and is happy to keep making progress.

Today he faces a fellow NUI Maynooth student Conor O'Rourke (Naas) in the third round. Robbie Cannon of Laytown & Bettystown, the only former champion left, moved steadily through his two matches yesterday.

The 2009 winner had a 3&2 win over Mallow's Ciaran McKenna, followed by a 4&2 result against Paddy Delaney of Arklow.

Noel Pyne of Ennis, who turns 66 in December and is playing in his 49th South of Ireland, beat Declan King of Tramore 5&4 but then lost 5&4 to Richard Bridges from Stackstown in the afternoon.

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