Keating pitch perfect as he stakes his claim to make Open
Seapoint teenager Dylan Keating fired a six-under 66 in regional Qualifying for The Open at Baltray to keep alive his dream of playing at Royal Portrush.
He was one of 15 Irish players to come through one of 13 Regional Qualifying sites in the UK and Ireland for 36-hole final qualifying for just 12 places at Fairmont St Andrews, St Annes Old Links, Prince's and Notts Hollinwell next Tuesday.
Kilkenny's Luke Donnelly fired a three-under 67 to tie for second in the race for 11 spots at Kedleston Park as Mount Juliet's Kevin Phelan shot a four-under 68 to tie for sixth and win one of 13 spots on offer at Minchinhampton.
Dundalk Grammar schoolboy Keating (17), a nephew of former Boyzone star Ronan Keating and the reigning Irish and Ulster U-16 champion, hit the high notes at County Louth as he fired seven birdies in a sensational round to win one of 13 places on offer.
"It would be phenomenal to qualify for The Open," said Dylan.
"It's one of those things you don't think you can do when you are 17 years old but I am totally backing myself to get through."
While ex-World Snooker champion Shaun Murphy finished second last in the 115-strong field after an 84, Keating won by one stroke from Dooks professional Danny Sugrue, who is enjoying a remarkable recovery from a liver transplant, and Galway amateur Joe Lyons.
Laytown and Bettystown's Thomas Mulligan, Holywood's Tom McKibbin and Massereene's Tiarnan McLarnon and pros Conor O'Rourke and Brian Casey also got through after 68s with Moyola Park's Gareth Shaw, The Island's Paul McBride and amateurs Hugh Foley and Shaun Carter from Royal Dublin and Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell also progressing after a playoff.
Meanwhile, host Paul McGinley announced that Amateur Champion James Sugrue will tee it up in the Irish Open Pro-Am at Lahinch.