Mark Power produced a rousing finish that should prove enough to see the Kilkenny amateur progress to the final two rounds at the Irish Open.
Starting the day at four-over par, the 20-year old made the turn in two-over on the day before a double-bogey at the par-5 tenth looked to have blown his chances of weekend progression.
Stranded at eight-over par standing on the 14th tee, Power swung like a man with nothing to lose and sure enough, the birdies followed, three in-all on 14, 15, and 17 before a two-putt par at the last saw him home in 71 and on the projected cut mark of five-over par.
“Yeah delighted with that finish, it was a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions to be honest,” Power reflected.
“I had a bogey on 9 and my head wasn’t in the right place hitting the tee shot on 10 and I pulled it into trouble and that lead to a double. It got me focused, I thought I was going home there after the tenth, but I was actually rolling the putter really nicely and stuck in there and picked up a few nice birdies on the way home.”
Helped in no small part by Dermot Byrne on the bag, long-time caddie to now Open Champion Shane Lowry, the experience of the bagman by his side played a crucial role in Power’s progress over the first two days, not least when the wheels looked to have come off after 10.
“Dermot completely relaxed me and got me to knuckle down and got me back in the zone, it was great to have someone of his experience on the bag and he has certainly been worth a few shots to me here this week,” Power added.
“My driving is normally my strong point, but I have struggled a bit off the tee the last few days but managed to get it back on those last few holes. I will go to the range now and work on that a bit as driving will be key to posting any scores over the weekend.”
An invitee of title sponsor Dubai Duty Free this week, the Wake Forest star, who won the famous East Lake Cup just two and a half months into college life in America last year, is now hoping for a big weekend after completing his first mission in making the weekend cut.
“My expectations here were just try to make the cut, to get four rounds in at a pro event is big for me,” he said.
“I felt like I could contend here this week if I got off to a decent start but my game hasn’t been as sharp as I would like. So to make it into the weekend with my game not at 100%, I feel I can still shoot up the leaderboard if I get it together.”
Definitely headed home were Paul Dunne at plus-nine after rounds of 75 and 74, Gavin Moyinhan and amateur Tom McKibbin both at 11-over par and Cormac Sharvin at the foot of the board at 17-over par.
A 90 minute frost delay on Friday is expected to see round two carry over into Saturday morning.
Earlier report on Colm Moriarty and Padraig Harrington HERE
Full scoring HERE