Sport Golf

Friday 19 January 2018

Murray makes light of swirling winds to seal spot in last 16

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Pat Murray, no stranger to the challenge of matchplay in testing conditions, marched into the last 16 of the AIG-sponsored Irish Close Championship after seeing off Irish international Alex Gleeson and Eoin Arthurs.

Pat Murray, no stranger to the challenge of matchplay in testing conditions, marched into the last 16 of the AIG-sponsored Irish Close Championship after seeing off Irish international Alex Gleeson and Eoin Arthurs.

On a day in Connemara when wind and rain replaced glorious sunshine, Murray, who lifted the Close title in Enniscrone four years ago, cruised past Gleeson 5&4.

Arthurs proved a sterner test in the afternoon. Murray edged into a two-hole lead after six, but Arthurs clawed one back at the eighth hole before winning 14 and 15 to take the lead over the reigning South of Ireland champion.

As the wind strengthened and swirled, Arthurs found trouble off the tee on the 16th, and when Murray found the centre of the green in two and Arthurs failed to get up and down, the match was level.

A 359-yard drive and a wedge was all Murray needed to find the penultimate green.

"I nailed my driver down 17. I had 140 yards to the flag and hit a wedge in under the flag. Eoin missed it short but hit a great pitch stone dead," Murray said.

With the match all-square heading down the last, both players were left with three-foot putts for par. Murray would have taken his chances in extra holes, but the offer from Arthurs didn't come.

"I was half-expecting a call," Murray confessed afterward. "If he had said, come on, we'll walk on, I would have said okay."

Murray held his nerve to hole-out and when Arthurs' putt horse-shoed out, his fate was sealed.

Ryan McKinstry of Cairndhu is Murray's next test after the Ulsterman accounted for Simon Ward. Galway's Eddie McCormack takes on silver medal winner Cormac Sharvin after seeing off Eugene Smith of Ardee and Greenore's Ian Brennan.

The East of Ireland champion, Paul Dunne from Greystones, is also through to the last 16, after wins over David Carey and Liam Ashby, both by 5&4.

One of the pre-tournament favourites, Jack Hume, is out after losing to Waterford's Eanna Griffin in the first round by a one-hole margin, while the defending champion is also out – Chris Selfridge lost to Jonathan Yates of Naas 3&2.

Irish Independent

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