Rafferty leads Irish charge but Purcell misses out on home turf
Walker Cup hopefuls Caolan Rafferty and James Sugrue fired sub-par rounds to join Éanna Griffin and Ronan Mullarney in the matchplay stages of the Amateur Championship at Portmarnock today.
Dundalk star Rafferty (26) bounced back impressively from an opening 74 at The Island by firing five birdies in a four-under 68 at Portmarnock to finish tied sixth in strokeplay qualifying on one-under par.
The cut mark fell at four-over par, with 76 players qualifying and a preliminary round will be held in the morning.
But while the top-ranked player in the field, Australian David Micheluzzi, safely qualified on two-over, there was disappointment for Portmarnock's Conor Purcell who bowed out on eight-over.
"I'm 26 so I'm going out there to enjoy it at this stage," said Rafferty (above), who has proved to be a brilliant late bloomer. "To shoot 68 around that golf course is always a nice feeling.
"There was a bit of work to do after yesterday but I just went out in a positive frame of mind today.
"It's nice to be the leading Irish player and we'll see what happens in the match play now. You can go out and shoot six-under and lose or shoot ten-over and win on the 12th!"
Purcell needed to break par on his home course to make the cut after an opening 76 at The Island but shot 75 to miss out by four strokes as just four of the 23 home entrants qualified.
But Waterford talent Griffin was pleased to follow a 73 at Portmarnock with a one-under 70 at The Island to qualify in joint 11th on level-par on his debut.
"I'm delighted to be up that high," Griffin said. "I know I can do it. When I play well, I can compete with anyone."
Yeovil's Thomas Plumb shot a 71 at Portmarnock to top the 76 qualifiers on four-under par, edging out Denmark's John Axelson, who shot a 69 there, for the medal after a count-back of their aggregate back-nine scores at both courses.
Mallow international Sugrue made the top 64 and ties in 46th place on three-over after a 69 at The Island where Galway's Ronan Mullarney shot 72 to make it on the four-over par limit.