Upsets galore on Day 1 of the Matchplay at the North of Ireland

Adam Smith during Matchplay Round 1 of the North Of Ireland Amateur Open, Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portrush, Antrim, Irl. 14/07/2021. Picture Mike Hyde /

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Defending champion Arron Edwards-Hill and leading qualifier Joshua Hill were both eliminated on Day 1 of the Matchplay at the North of Ireland Amateur Open in Royal Portrush.

Royal Dublin’s Richard Knightly defeated Edwards-Hill by 1 hole in Round 1, before he came from behind on the 17th to defeat Tandragee’s Ross Dutton on the 19th hole, to book his place in Round 3. Speaking after his Round 2 win, Knightly said he was happy to advance after a tough day against both Edwards-Hill and Dutton:

“The match against Arron this morning was a ridiculous standard. Both of us were well under par. The last six holes were all won with a birdie. He was the reigning champion for a reason, so I was delighted to get the win.

“I played solid this afternoon, and Ross played very well. I lost a ball on 10 and that swung it in his favour until the 18th. I hit a super wedge to six feet on 19 for the win.”

Leading qualifier Joshua Hill was eliminated by Mullingar’s Adam Smith in Round 2. Smith’s 3&2 win was his second of the day, after defeating Grange’s Jake Whelan by the same score in Round 1. Despite beating Hill, Smith was keeping his feet on the ground, ahead of Round 3:

“Beating the leading qualifier doesn’t mean much when you get to the Matchplay. I only made two or three birdies over the two rounds, but I didn’t make many mistakes. It was all about not handing away holes today. Doing that hands over the momentum.

“It was a slog today, but I’m delighted to get in early. You could easily go 23 or 24 holes here. I’m delighted to be through to tomorrow.”

Galgorm Castle’s Michael Reid is one of three Ulster golfers to reach Round 3. He defeated Belvoir Park’s Gareth Lappin in Round 2, capping off a fine three days after impressing in qualifying.

“It was a tiring day, especially after playing to the 20th in Round 1. It’s all about playing match by match, and getting rests in between matches. The North is my favourite out of the four regional championships. I just love the course at Royal Portrush. I’m looking for more of the same tomorrow, and do whatever I can.”

It was a day for the underdogs, with only two of the top 16 players from qualifying reaching Round 3. The four semi-finalists will be known by the end of Thursday’s play, with the final 16 players having to make their way through two matches to make that stage.

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