Good things come to those who wait and after a two hour fog delay on Saturday morning a host of players enjoyed excellent rounds on a day where the amateur course record at the Island was beaten three times as Wales’ Tomi Bowen smashed TJ Ford’s 65 with a staggering 62 to open up a four-shot lead heading into the final round of the Flogas Irish Men’s Amateur Open Championship.
England’s Jackson Garnett had set the course record with a 66 – beating Harley Smith RD1, Geoff Lenehan RD 2 (67) – for about three minutes before Sligo’s Ford went one better with a superb 65.
Ford’s name in the history books lasted just three hours as Bowen went on a rampage to move to nine-under-par and into the lead.
The 20-year-old debutant roared out of the traps with a hat trick of birdies before stringing another three together either side of the turn to pose a threat to Ford’s number.
Bowen birdied 14 and then drilled a 3-wood to six feet on the par-5 15th for an eagle to move to nine-under for the round. It wasn’t all swagger as the Welshman had to dig deep for clutch pars on 16 and 17 before he finished off in style with a superb birdie on 18 to rapturous applause.
“I got off to a really good start, had three birdies in a row to start then played nicely in the middle of the round had another three in a row then hit a few good shots coming in, a couple of bad ones but two good up and downs on 16 and 17 to shoot a good score.
“Yeah I really wanted to hole it on 18 there was a good crowd there so just wanted it. The pars on 16 and 17 were crucial, it was a good test on both chip shots and managed to hit two good ones.”
Bowen was on course to shoot the third 67 of the championship on Friday before he played the wrong ball on 7, his 16th costing him a double as he settled for a 70. But he was aware of his progress on Saturday and wanted to make some history.
“Pretty much from the start and I felt like I could hole a lot of putts and could hit a lot of good iron shots. I was aware of the course record to be honest and I definitely wanted to set it, had a chance yesterday but a few things happened.
“It was still tough I had to play proper golf to shoot that number. It helped that we all got off to good starts in the group and it was good to have all three of us playing well.”
It’s been a remarkable recovery from an opening 75 and the youngster is certainly enjoying his Irish Amateur Open debut.
“I didn’t play well at all really in the first round from tee to green then found something on the range and went on from there. I’ve a good chance just stick to what I done today and hopefully do the same.
“I’m definitely enjoying my first Irish AM, it’s good fun we had a tough draw the first day the weather was bad but it’s been lovely weather since, not every Irish really!”
Bowen leads by four from English Walker Cup panelist Dylan Shaw-Radford while East of Ireland champion Alex Maguire and Portmarnock’s James Fox share third on four-under-par alongside Welshman Matt Roberts and Harley Smith who shot a gallant two-over 74 after opening with a nine on the par-4 1st.
Maguire has only been home from the States ten days but has taken to the links well and a superb back nine of 33 saw him remain in the mix.
“Overall, very solid I struck the ball well I didn’t really get into trouble except for nine I got away with a bogey there. Overall very happy with it, hit my iron shots well today, a few close missed a few short ones for birdie but very happy.
“It’s a struggle out there, in America it’s all target golf, spinning wedges and around the greens using a lot of check and spin. Here is a different ball game, I struggled last year coming back here around the greens so I spent a lot of time just chipping and hitting different shots. I grew up on links golf but everything I was doing around the greens was wrong so the practice has worked out so far.
“I’m going to stick to my game and plot away and see where it leaves me tomorrow.”
Overnight leader Caolan Rafferty saw his chances take a hit after he dropped four shots in his last eight holes to drop back to a share of seventh on three-under alongside David Shiel, Scotland’s Matthew Wilson and England’s John Gough who bogeyed his last two holes.
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