Rice keeps defence hopes alive at Sutton Matchplay

Ronan MacNamara

Tim Rice remains on course for consecutive Annesly Williams Skoda nine-hole Matchplay titles after he set up a mouth watering quarter-final tie with Connemara Pro-Am winner Neil O’Briain in Sutton Golf Club. 

Rice won the inaugural event back in 2019 and after a covid enforced two-year hiatus this event with so much potential has made a welcome return to the schedule.

Rice emerged from group six with two wins from three which included a 3&2 victory over four-time winner this term Richard Kilpatrick of Banbridge. 

The Limerick pro was also a comfortable winner over Ciaran Molloy by a 4&3 margin before losing his final match of the day by two after dragging James Quinlivan to the 9th. 

Meanwhile O’Briain progressed from an interesting group involving Cian Geraghty, Glen Robinson and Brian O’Reilly with a 100% record as he continued his fine season. 

The McGuirks golf man went the distance in all three matches. He saw off O’Reilly by two holes on the ninth before once again going the full whack with Robinson and Geraghty but coming out on the right side of the result. 

Meanwhile, two-time Irish PGA Champion David Higgins is back in the groove following his PGA Cup excursions. 

The Waterville man was the last man standing in group one as Michael McGeady, Cian McNamara and Brian McCormack bowed out at the group stage. 

Higgins roared to the summit with two wins from two over Monkstown’s McNamara (2&1) and McCormack by a 4&3 margin before going down 3&1 to the in form McGeady but he still did enough to advance. 

Higgins will face Jimmy Bolger while David Ryan who had a hole in one will battle with David Hughes of Massereene. 

In the bottom match Colm Moriarty progressed from what could be deemed as the group of death after wins over Brian McElhinney and Simon Thornton and a half with Paddy Devine saw him go unbeaten. 

The Glasson man will duel with Paul Eivers in the anchor match with the winner facing the winner. of Rice and O’Briain in what is undoubtedly the tougher side of the draw. 

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