Wednesday 25 April 2018

Wily Fox eyes young prey in quest for glory out West

James Fox. Photo: Pat Cashman
James Fox. Photo: Pat Cashman

Brian Keogh

Amateur golf might be the preserve of the young guns these days, but Portmarnock's James Fox might just turn out to be the daddy in the West of Ireland Championship at Rosses Point.

While he's only 35, the father of two is almost in the grizzled veteran category compared to the other three semi-finalists after the field was whittled down to four in a freezing east wind.

"With two kids under four, I haven't played a lot from the past two years," said wily competitor Fox, who faces 23-year-old international Alex Gleeson from Castle after a brace of hard-fought 2 and 1 wins over Co Cavan's Shane McDermott and Athlone's Thomas O'Connor.

"I've enjoyed playing some competitive golf again, and I'm hoping to play a lot more this year and looking forward to playing again in the morning."

Big-hitting 21-year-old Rob Brazill from Naas takes on 18-year-old Jack Madden from Royal Portrush in the other semi-final which makes former Irish Close champion Gleeson - a full-time amateur and a former junior member of Co Sligo - the red-hot favourite to beat Fox, whose brother Noel won the 'West' at Enniscrone in 1998.

Gleeson beat reigning East of Ireland champion Reece Black 2 and 1 in the third round before Portmarnock's Jack Pierse was forced to retire with a left knee injury as they played the 10th in their quarter-final.

Runner-up last year, Pierse got through to the last eight when leading qualifier Kyle McCarron from North West was forced to withdraw after three holes with a recurrence of a wrist injury.

But a few hours later Pierse was the man coming to terms with another disappointment at Rosses Point, 12 months after losing to Barry Anderson in the final.

"I had hurt my knee yesterday and hoped it would ease out but was very sore all day. On the eighth, I turned towards someone when walking and I got a really sharp pain and couldn't walk after that," said Pierse, who had just gone three down when he conceded.

"I tried to hobble the next couple of holes and actually hit it in close on 10 with my second but fell to the ground as I hit it and couldn't get up. It's very disappointing."

Madden knocked out Rosslare's Gary Collins on the 19th in their unfinished second-round match at first light,and then defeated Holywood's Rory Williamson 4 and 3 before completing a surprise, 19th-hole win over tournament favourite Robin Dawson from Tramore.

Dawson was two up after 10, but lost the 12th to a birdie and then three-putted the 13th to be hauled back to all square, eventually falling at the 19th when he missed the green left and failed to get up and down.

Brazill, who reached the quarter-finals last year, beat defending champion Barry Anderson 2 and 1 and Forrest Little's Jack McDonnell by 2 holes.

Irish Independent

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