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McGee delighted with 'best Major showing yet'

Garth McGee, the 19-year-old son of Malone club professional Michael, produced a performance of the highest quality to tame the tough Hillside course and qualify comfortably for the match-play stages of the 116th British Amateur Championship.

The former Irish Junior international fired a splendid one-under-par 71 to add to his 74 at the easier Hesketh course on Monday for an aggregate of 145.

But it did not look so bright early on and he seemed likely to be heading home when he was two-over after four holes, but the American-based student got his act together, slapping his second shot onto the green at the 563-yard fifth for the first birdie of his round.

Out in one-over 37, having canned a crucial putt for a par at the ninth, he birdied the 12th with a 20-foot putt and then got up and down for a birdie at the long 17th.

Playing in the championship for the first time, McGee was delighted.

"This is my best showing in a Major competition," said McGee.

Portmarnock's James Fox -- brother of Noel, the veteran international -- and Paul Cutler from Portstewart also made it through. Fox returned a 70 at Hesketh yesterday for a 146 total, while Cutler, a Walker Cup hopeful, squeezed in on the 147 mark after a 75.

Cutler, who plans to turn pro at the end of the year, had three successive bogeys on his way to the turn in four-over.

But he then hit a six-iron to 10 feet at the short 10th and rolled in the putt and picked up another birdie at the long 11th, although he bogeyed the 15th.

Mourne's Reeve Whitsun missed out on qualifying by a stroke. Rory McNamara and Dermot McElroy were two strokes adrift.

Leading the qualifiers was Leicestershire teenager Gregory Eason with a 139 total, one stroke clear of Welsh champion Alastair Jones.

Irish Independent