Wednesday 21 March 2018

McNamara leads Irish effort

Chris Smart

Ireland are in a strong position to claim a top-flight spot at the European Amateur Team Championships at Silkeborg in Denmark after a solid opening-day performance.

Bidding to regain the title they last held in 2008, Ireland ended the day tied in third place with Scotland knowing that another reasonable display today will take them into the last eight for the match play phase.

With five of their six cards counting, they finished on 11-over-par 371, 10 shots behind leaders France and three adrift of second-placed Germany.

Headfort's Rory McNamara was Ireland's stand-out performer with his two-under 70. He produced five birdies on the back nine, but bogeyed the 16th and 17th.

Dubliner Paul Dunne, who set a new course record at Princes in Kent during last month's Amateur Championship, was one-under on the final tee, but double-bogeyed the last.

Mourne's Reeve Whitson and youngster Jack Hume both carded 75s. Opener Kevin Phelan, who survived the cut at last month's US Open, was left frustrated with his 78 – he triple-bogeyed the fourth and never recovered. Gavin Moynihan carded a disappointing 79.

Ireland also have a good chance of making the last eight in the European Boys Team Championship over the Murcar Links in Scotland thanks largely to level-par 72s by Gareth Lappin and Paul McBride.

Robin Dawson was steady for a 73 and Sean Flanagan for 74, while James Sugrue's 77 also counted in Ireland's total of 368, with Alec Myles recording a non-counting 79. Ireland finished day one in sixth place, 13 strokes adrift of leaders Italy.

Meanwhile, a two-under-par 70 by former British champion Stephanie Meadow gave Ireland a chance of qualifying for the top flight – the last eight in the European Ladies Team Championship at Fulford in York today.

The 21-year-old Curtis Cup player from Royal Portrush carded a sensational bogey-free homeward half of 31 which included five birdies.

Her heroics meant Ireland finished with a five-card aggregate of 371 for a share of seventh place, albeit 22 strokes behind leaders Denmark but within the first flight cut-off point.

Both the Maguire twins, Leona and Lisa, ended with respectable scores of 74, each finishing with a birdie four.

Meanwhile, Irish girl golfers will have to produce something special if they are to progress in their Euro championships at Linkoping in Sweden.

They are 25 strokes off the pace and seven outside the top-flight positions in 14th.

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