Boucher aces the fourth to take down Carew as we’re down to four in Rosses Point

Mark McGowan

Marc Boucher - Image by

Marc Boucher produced a sensational hole-in-one on the fourth at County Sligo Golf Club en-route to taking down Quentin Carew in the quarter-finals of the Connolly’s Audi West of Ireland Championship.

“I was between 9 and 8 iron,” Boucher said afterwards, “so I hit 8. I’d hit 9 in the morning and I said to Darragh that I might just cut up an 8 and yeah, just hit a lovely shot, straight at it, one bounce and couple of rolls and straight in.”

Despite suffering such a debilitating body blow early on, Carew responded with a birdie to take the next and he’d tied the match by the turn and took his first lead of the day with a birdie at 10.


But Boucher isn’t an Irish team member for no reason, and he fought back to level the match on 13 and then birdied the 14th to regain the advantage. The heavens opened as they approached the 15th tee, and the wind whipping in off the adjacent shore turned the hole into a monster. Carew’s tee-shot sailed left into the thick rough and could only advance the ball to around 90 yards short of the hole, eventually sinking a gutsy 15-footer to remain in touch.

Boucher won the next with a par, however, and safely on 17 in two, was able to two-putt for a 2&1 victory after Carew’s long birdie attempt drifted by.

“It was a really tough match,” he said afterwards, “most of them are to be honest, played really nicely, so just really happy to get through.

“It’s always a challenge coming around this place. I don’t think I’ve ever played it in less than 20 mph winds, and the last six or seven holes we had gusts of 30mph or so. I’ve always loved matchplay, I’ve lost a couple of close matches in a few championships over the last couple of years so it was nice to come out on the right side of a couple of close ones today.”

Boucher now faces James Claridge who defeated Patrick Keeling in the battle of the young guns. Holing putts from just about everywhere, the Englishman has been the standout performer of the tournament thus far and one had to feel for Keeling who didn’t do a lot wrong besides not hole as many 30-footers as Claridge did.

“I did the same this morning,” Claridge said when asked about forging an early lead. “The tough stretch coming in, I wanted to get it done as early as possible. Win the strokeplay and then just carry the momentum. Just trying to stick to my game, it seems to be doing the trick so far.”

Described by Arron Edwards-Hill as one of the best putters he’d ever seen, Claridge has adopted a new technique recently that’s brought him even more success on the greens. “I switched to aim point three or four weeks ago,” he explained. “I have been putting well obviously, I won last week. I putted really well.”

Getting early wins in both matches today is something that may give Claridge an advantage in tomorrow’s tussle with Boucher given the war of attrition it’s been at Rosses Point this week. “Obviously watching the Masters last night I stayed up a little later than I probably should have,” he admitted, before adding “I mean, I’m knackered”

On the other side of the draw, Slieve Russell man Shane McDermott ended Cian Harkin’s chances as he blitzed the Donegal man in the early stages of their quarter-final and never looked back.

“Yeah, got off to a good start,” McDermott admitted in what was an understatement as he’d go three-under through six, “just tried to put him under as much pressure as I could. I’m driving the ball really well this week so I just nailed driver on those holes and got as close to the green as I could and thankfully made a few putts.”

Coached by Gordon Smyth at the Raflewski Academy at the Slieve Russell, McDermott’s game has come on leaps and bounds.

“It’s great,” he added, “I’m embracing the pressure. This is the furthest I’ve ever gotten in this competition so just got to keep pushing. So yeah, the sky’s the limit.”

In the final match on course, Rosses Point’s own Barry Anderson, the 2017 West of Ireland champion, and Tandragee’s James Hewitt were engaged in a titanic affair that went all the way to the 18th green.

Hewitt took an early lead and never trailed on any of the 18 tee-boxes. Three times he forged ahead, taking a 2-UP lead on the 11th though Anderson would reign him back in, holing a great par-saver to tie 13 and then tied the match on 14.

Hewitt’s short game has been sublime all week – and was a major factor in him defeating the other local man, Ruairi O’Connor 1UP earlier in the day – and his skills were on full display on 15 as he’d deftly chip to within inches to regain the lead.

Going up 17, it appeared that Anderson’s run had come to an end when Hewitt chipped to five feet and Anderson’s own effort ran about 25 feet by.

But in the most classic of matchplay fashions, the local hero, buoyed by the support of the large gallery, drained the putt back down the hill and Hewitt’s own effort was pushed and slid by, taking them up 18.

With the final green surrounded and both safely on in two but facing lengthy putts, Anderson lagged to three-feet and Hewitt, going second, left himself around 18 inches more. Possibly with the miss on 17 in his mind, Hewitt pulled the five-footer, leaving Anderson with a short putt to win that he duly dispatched to the delight of the vocal support.

“It’s great, it’s weird,” a jubilant Anderson said on the green afterwards, “I just kind of played this year because it was the Centenary. I had no expectations whatsoever. I’m really just a part-time player these days I really don’t play as much as I used to. It’s a bit mad to be in the semi-finals but once you are there now there is only four of you left. And somebody has to win it so might as well give it a crack.”

“I just said, feck it if I’m going down I’m going down fighting,” he said when asked about the putt on 17, “I’ll give it a go. I just said I would pick a line and hope it was the right one. When I looked it was tracking and it had the legs to get there.

“Matchplay moment, I make and he misses. Just a bit mad, I can’t believe it. I was kind of down most of the match and trying to hang on in there. Just mad that I got through.

“It’s class. The club is brilliant. I know I speak on behalf of all of the guys who played in the West it really means a lot when you see the crowds coming up. It kind of gives you a buzz so if you hit a good shot, you get that deep roar and you know they are behind you.”

The Tiger roar?

“Haha, not quite,” he replied.


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