Monday 22 January 2018

O'Hanlon rolls back the years to take control of Baltray fate

Former professional Paul O'Hanlon. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / Sportsfile
Former professional Paul O'Hanlon. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / Sportsfile

Brian Keogh

Former professional Paul O'Hanlon feels keeping his foot on the gas is the key to claiming the biggest win of his career at Baltray today.

The 32-year-old from Carton House takes a four-stroke lead into the final two rounds of the CityNorth Hotel East of Ireland Amateur Open in his first championship appearance since being reinstated as an amateur little more than 18 months ago.

Having given up the pro game in 2012 after three years on the mini tours, he's sought a new career as a trainee accountant but now enjoys the game again.

It showed as the ex-Curragh star added a 70 to his opening 65 to lead by four on nine under par from Portmarnock's Jack Pierse (71-68) and County Louth's Gerard Dunne (67-72)

And while South Africa's Noel Anderson (69). Belvoir Park's Gareth Lappin (70), Slieve Russell's Theo Coffey (71) and Co Sligo and Carton House veteran Gary McDermott (71) are all tied fourth, six shots behind on three under, O'Hanlon is in firm control.

"It could be a house of cards still," joked O'Hanlon after taking advantage of sun-kissed, windless conditions at a pristine County Louth.

Four birdies and two bogeys added up to a fine 70 for O'Hanlon, who knows he will be tough to beat if he can remain on the front foot.

"I am thinking it's matchplay situation with the guys I am with tomorrow. I think if I can go out and keep making birdies, I can make up for any mistakes.

"It's nice to roll back the years a bit but even still, the standard of golf I am playing is probably far better than I've ever played at, which is bizarre."

After a birdie at the sixth, the key to O'Hanlon's day came at the next two holes where he holed a 20 footer for bogey at the seventh and then followed it with a 60 footer for birdie at the eighth he described as "probably the longest putt I've holed in about five years."

He also holed a 30 foot birdie putt at the 12th and followed a bogey at he 17th with a deft, chip and putt birdie at the last.

Irish Independent

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