Thursday 22 March 2018

McElroy and Hopkins in last eight after day of tense battles

british amateur seniors open

Irish teenagers Dermot McElroy and Jeff Hopkins are through to the quarter-finals of the British Boys Open Championship at Kilmarnock (Barassie) after a tense day of competition.

Hopkins,the Skerries boy, who finished second in the Irish Youths championship earlier in the season, recorded two nail-biting last green victories, first over Warwickshire's Jamie Rutherford and then David Blick of Devon.

His second match was particularly tense as never more than a hole separated the pair and having been one up after 11 holes, Hopkins fell one behind with two to play.

But stunning approach shots on each of the last two holes brought him success on both and a last-gasp triumph.

He now faces France's Stanislas Gautier this morning for a place in the last four.

McElroy, a 17-year-old from Ballymena, had a battle royal with fellow Irish international Alex Gleeson in the morning.

He eventually won 2&1 and then overcame Ewan Scott from St Andrews on the home green after a monster struggle.

McElroy, who has just left St Patrick's College, Ballymena and is considering going to College in America was two-under-par in beating Scott.

He was one down after three holes, but won the fourth and fifth to grab the lead and was never behind after that.

"It was a cracking game with both of us playing really well," said McElroy, who was runner-up to Alan Dunbar in the North of Ireland men's championship.

Two up with three to play, he lost the 16th, but halves at the last two saw him through to a meeting this morning with German Aaron Leitmannstetter.

Moyola Park's Chris Selfridge lost 3&2 in the third round to Scott Gibson of Southerness, where Ireland won last week's international series.

Ulsterman Garth McGimpsey finished a highly-credible third in the British Seniors Open Championship on the Old Course at Walton Heath yesterday after three very solid rounds.

A closing 73 gave the former Walker Cup captain and 1985 Amateur champion a 54-hole aggregate of 215 -- one under par -- to end up seven strokes adrift of winner Paul Simson, who won by five from fellow American Chip Lutz.

McGimpsey, from Bangor, had rounds of 70, 72 and 73 and hardly put a foot wrong, striking the ball well and chipping and putting accurately.

Cork's Tom Cleary can feel pleased too, finishing joint-fifth on 220 after a splendid closing 70, while Portmarnock's Adrian Morrow and Michael Quirk of Doneraile were two strokes further back.

Arthur Pierse, the 2007 champion fell away badly with an 82 yesterday for a 231 aggregate.

Irish Independent

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