Moran the last to fall as Irish hopes fade at The Amateur

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Robert Moran (Photo by David Cannon/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Castle’s Robert Moran was the last Irishman to fall, going down 5&4 to England’s Jack Dyer in round three of The 126th Amateur Championship at Nairn.

The Dubliner was the last man standing from an Irish point of view after Elm Park’s John Cleary (2 Holes), Dun Laoghaire’s Alan Fahy (4&3) and Grange’s Jake Whelan (6&5) were all beaten in round two. However, English Walker Cup star Dyer prove one too good for Moran, booking his place in Friday morning’s quarterfinals where he’ll face compatriot Olly Huggins.

Meanwhile Nairn member Calum Scott came through extra holes on two occasions to secure his spot in the quarter-finals. Supported by local members and his older brother, Sandy, the 17-year-old won twice at the 19th hole as his dream championship challenge stayed on course on home soil.

“I can’t really believe it,” he said. “When everyone is cheering on my tee shot and into the green, it’s just amazing, so good. If you had said to me I would be in the quarter-finals at the start of the week I’m not sure I would have believed it.

“I’m really tired. Thirty-eight holes in one day is not easy, especially with a lot of pressure. I didn’t think I was throwing it away this morning, Hlynur just made so many good putts but it was great to finish it at the 19th.

“It was tight this afternoon, very solid from us both. Harley is a great competitor and it was a good match. It was really nice to catch a birdie on the play-off hole and take another win.
It’s good to still have two Scottish players hanging in there in the last eight. I can’t wait for tomorrow. I’m really happy.”

The teenager was in full control against Hlynur Bergsson in their last 32 contest after building a five-hole lead, but the Icelander bravely fought back to take the match into overtime. Scott’s par at the 19th was enough to see him through.

In another close afternoon tie with England’s Harley Smith, Scott again drew on the home support to win the 18th to go to sudden death. A birdie from seven feet at the 19th was greeted by cheers as he set up a last-eight match with James Ashfield.

In his first Amateur Championship, Ashfield, 20, built on his 4&3 victory over Irishman Alan Fahy with the same winning scoreline against Jack Bigham to keep the Welsh flag flying.

Like Scott, John Paterson is bidding to become the first Scottish winner since Bradley Neil in 2014. In the morning, the St Andrews player won the 18th to take his match with Rory Browne to extra holes and sealed success with a birdie at the 19th. The 21-year-old was then in control against Josef Hacker from the outset, building a three-up lead after six holes en route to a 3&2 triumph.

Laird Shepherd was also a 4&3 winner in his all-English last 16 meeting with Arron Edwards-Hill to book his spot in the last eight.

Nairn, which last staged The Amateur Championship in 1994, basked in lovely weather, with less wind compared to earlier in the week. With the match play stage continuing to Saturday’s 36-hole final, the winner gains an exemption into The 149th Open at Royal St George’s, the US Open and, by tradition, an invitation to play in The Masters Tournament.

Past Amateur Champions include José María Olazábal, Sergio Garcia, Matteo Manassero and last year’s winner, Joe Long, who made his US Open debut at Torrey Pines today as a result of his success.

The 36-hole final will be live broadcast on The R&A’s YouTube and Facebook accounts as well as on randa.org. Live scoring, news and video can be followed on The R&A’s website and social media platforms.

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