Foley wins Bridgestone Order of Merit after making quarter-finals at Close

Hugh Foley (Photo by Matthew Lewis/R&A/)

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Hugh Foley remains on course in his bid for history as he saw off close friend Max Kennedy to progress through to the quarter-finals of the AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship at Headfort Golf Club. 

The Royal Dubliner can become the first man since Darren Clarke in 1990 to win a hat trick of the South, North and Close titles in the same year.  

A 1UP win over clubmate Max Kennedy has ensured Foley will win the Bridgestone Order of Merit regardless of what happens over the next day and a half. 

The Clontarf native had to dig deep to see off Kennedy who finished runner-up in Mullingar a fortnight ago as he came from two down at the turn. 

The match was levelled on the 15th and Foley showed why he is a serial winner and highlighted his baffling omission from Ireland’s Eisenhower Trophy side. 

Foley will face another familiar face and another big hitter in Richard Knightly, also of Royal Dublin, which means there will be Dublin representation in Wednesday’s semi-finals. 

Matt McClean – the only player who could catch Foley in the order of merit – will go deep into the latter stages in one of Ireland’s premier competitions as he looks to end the search for his first major title. 

The Malone man who is one of three Irish representatives on the Eisenhower Trophy side – alongside Mark Power and Robert Moran – held off a back nine surge from Roganstown’s Sean Keeling to advance 2&1. 

McClean who won the Portrush Scratch Cup earlier this year was three up after eight holes but saw his lead whittled down to the minimum by the 15-year-old who progressed to the final stage of 150th Open Championship qualifying. 

The Northern Irishman held his nerve to win the 17th and set up a mouthwatering quarter-final tie with defending champion Peter O’Keeffe who is looking to emulate Rory McIlroy and become the first player since the Holywood star to retain the Close. 

O’Keeffe came back from two down to see off Laytown & Bettystown golfer Annraoi Collins on the 19th hole. A par was enough for the Douglas native to advance. 

O’Keeffe won a stroke play edition of the Close last year in Tullamore in what was the fourth stroke play format in eleven years after 109 years of matchplay. Interestingly, the two-time Irish Amateur champion is yet to win in a matchplay event but he has threatened to break his duck after finishing runner-up to Hugh Foley in the South. 

Quentin Carew’s remarkable journey has continued as he proved he is more than capable at this level with a 2&1 win over Elm Park’s Jake Foley in the opening last-16 match of the morning. 

The Castleknock golfer only advanced to the matchplay stages in 64th place after his better back nine in the second qualifying round saw him edge out Roscommon’s Allan Hill. 

Since then, he has beaten Foley and Faithlegg’s Rory Milne after taking a massive scalp with a 2&1 win over leading qualifier and East of Ireland champion Alex Maguire in round one. 

Carew will face Sam Murphy of Portumna who was too much for Killeen’s Jamie Butler as he won 5&3. 

Paul Conroy is the standout name in the top half of the draw and the Enniscorthy man eased to a 4&2 win over Ballyhaunis’s Andrew Hickey and he will face Simon Walker of Roscommon after he did enough to hold off Ryan Symington on the 18th. 

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