Sunday 9 December 2018

Victory keeps Sugrue Open hopes alive

James Sugrue. Photo: Brian Arthur Photo
James Sugrue. Photo: Brian Arthur Photo

Brian Keogh

Mallow amateur James Sugrue will have a chance to clinch a dream ticket to play in The Open at Carnoustie after he blasted an immaculate eight-under par 64 to win one of 13 local qualifying events by four strokes at County Louth.

The South of Ireland champion (21) birdied the first, second, sixth, ninth, 11th, 12th, 16th and 18th to win one of seven spots on offer at Baltray, where Rathmore amateur Ben Best and professionals Peter Williamson, Shane Franklin and Brendan McCarroll also qualified with four-under 68s.

Three players shot 69s and played off for the last two spots but after South African Robert Braithwaite took the first of them with a par four at the first extra hole, Sweden's Andreas Tancred claimed the other when Naas' Conor O'Rourke three-putted the fourth extra hole (the first). Sugrue will tee it up in final qualifying at one of four UK venues on July 3 - Notts (Hollinwell), Prince's, St Annes Old Links or The Renaissance Club - with three spots in The Open on offer at each.

Meanwhile, Kinsale's John Murphy and Naas' Jonathan Yates are the two new caps in the Ireland side selected for the next month's European Men's Team Championship in Berlin.

Murphy (20) earned his place thanks to his stunning playoff win in the St Andrews Links Trophy earlier this month and his run to the quarter-finals of the Amateur Championship, where he lost to runner-up Robin Dawson.

Ireland (European Amateur Team Championship, Golf Club Bad Saarow, 10-14 July): Robin Dawson (Tramore), Alex Gleeson (Castle), Rowan Lester (Hermitage), John Murphy (Kinsale), Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk), Jonathan Yates (Naas).

Elsewhere, Curtis Cup stars Olivia Mehaffey and Paula Grant this morning head up the Irish contingent at Ladies British Open Amateur Championship in Southport's Hillside.

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