Tuesday 14 August 2018

Mullarney parks his ego to lead the qualifiers at Amateur Close

Ronan Mullarney. Photo: Pat Cashman
Ronan Mullarney. Photo: Pat Cashman

Brian Keogh

Galway's Ronan Mullarney put his ego on hold to brilliantly top the qualifiers for today's matchplay stages of the AIG Irish Amateur Close at the European Club.

Pat Ruddy's Brittas Bay links is a huge challenge, even in calm weather.

But while he was emboldened by a super 66 by Douglas' Peter O'Keeffe in the Saturday's opening round, the Maynooth University scholar took no chances as he added a superb four-under 67 to his opening 72 to win the silver medal by a stroke from Portmarnock's Conor Purcell on three-under par.

"I was looking at Peter's score yesterday and I just thought it was the most amazing score I'd ever seen," Mullarney said of the bogey-free 66 which the big Corkman followed with a 76 to make to share third place with Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty and Belvoir Park's Marc Norton on level par.

Million

"I knew the greens were soft but 66 around here I thought was brilliant. He showed me it could be done. I didn't quite do what he did but not a million miles away."

Mullarney (22) birdied the first but he has such respect for the European Club that he took no chances at the terrifying 482-yard, par-four seventh, laying up with his approach before getting up and down from 50 yards for par.

"I'll probably get some slagging for it," added Mullarney, who bogeyed eighth but then birdied four of his last six holes, with the highlight a three-iron to five feet at the 17th after a pulled drive.

"The main aim, everyone will tell you, is just to qualify whether that's 64th or first I didn't really take many risks out there. It just added up to 67.

"It's something I've learned to do, when I think about some of the championships where I've missed cuts and some of the stupid shots you hit.

"You're there to qualify, not to look like Tiger Woods."

Purcell (21) shot a brace of 70s to finish on two-under despite starting birdie-par-eagle yesterday - the eagle coming after a six-iron to eight feet.

He bogeyed the eighth, ninth and 10th to slip back to level par but birdied the 13 and 14th and dropped just one more shot at the 16, when he was forced to declare his ball unplayable in a bush.

"Had a bit of a hiccup, three bogeys in a row got me back to square one," said the Dubliner, whose run to the semi-finals of the Amateur Championship and his seventh place in the European Amateur Championship earned him a GB & Ireland call-up for the St Andrews Trophy.

With 64 to qualify there was a nine-man play-off for the last four spots on 12-over 154, with Royal Portrush's Peter Kerr, Bushfoot's Owen Crooks, Lahinch's Thomas Neenan and Dun Laoghaire's Keith Murphy progressing.

Irish Independent

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