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Aces high for Matt at Knock

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Unbelievable: Matthew Welsh with his scorecard

Unbelievable: Matthew Welsh with his scorecard

Unbelievable: Matthew Welsh with his scorecard

Making your first hole-in-one is memorable but Knock's Matthew Welsh had to pinch himself on Monday when he made two aces in the space of six holes - one of them for albatross.

"I was thrilled," said the Belfast man (34), who shot a four-under 66 in the open singles and will now be cut to plus one. "I have never had a hole in one competitively before so to have two in one round and one on a par-four was pretty unbelievable.

"I'd arrived late and after rushing to the tee, I three-putted the first and was two-over after nine. But then I came home in 29 so I am a bit shellshocked."

After picking up a shot at the 10th, his dream run began at the par-three 12th.

"It was playing 125 yards so I took out a new gap wedge and I was joking with my playing partners that I can't control the spin on it," added Matthew, who was playing with his father Russell and pals Brian Douglas and Alan Gourley. "So I flew it over the hole and spun it back in. So that was pretty nice. It was a good yardage for me.

"After that I parred my way to the par-four 17th which was playing around 270 yards into the wind. So I decided to hit a small cut driver that took one bounce and ran towards the cup.

"My brother had come out and said I think that's gone in and I said 'no way!' But some of the boys from Portrush were playing the 16th behind us and they had their hands up in the air so I knew it must have gone in. It was pretty mad."

Now general manager of luxury retailer Flannels in Belfast, Matthew is no stranger to high-level golf, winning the British Universities title with the University of Birmingham, where he completed the Professional Golfers Association degree course in 2008.

But rather than going on to turn professional, he went into retail instead and hasn't looked back.

"Justin Parsons, who is now doing really well in the US, got me a job in Thailand and it was touch and go whether I would take it but in the end I decided not to turn pro," said Matthew, who grew up playing against the likes of Darren Crowe, Simon Ward and young stars Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry.

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"There were always better players to quickly remind me that there is another level up from mine. I remember playing in the Irish Close in Westport in 2005 and coming off the course to hear that Sean McTernan shot a 12 under 61!"


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