Whelan leading qualifier in the South


Jake Whelan - Fran Caffrey/golffile

Grange golfer Jake Whelan knows he will have to start with a fresh approach after he finished as top qualifier at the Pierse Motors South of Ireland in Lahinch.

Whelan, who has a great record in Munster, carded an impressive 67 on Thursday to finish top of the standings on -6 after the stroke play qualifying on the Clare links.

He had an eagle and five birdies on his card today and ended up one shot clear of Jack Hearn (Tramore), Conor Clarke (Balmoral), Peter O’Keeffe (Douglas) and Darren O’Sullivan (Tralee).


But the former Munster Men’s Amateur champion believes that the weekend will bring its own difficulties when match play begins tomorrow morning.

“Played well today, hit it nicely tee to green. Started out nicely, hit a nice two iron into about eight feet on the second and made eagle. So that was a big boost to start the day,” said Whelan.

“Played lovely on the front nine and then the back nine was a bit scrappy with the putter. Had two three putts and then missed a shortish putt on the 13th for birdie. But then got it back on 17 and 18, hit it in stone dead on both holes for birdie.

“Tomorrow will be completely different obviously, match play so you sort of start from scratch again, it will be difficult going forward. Hopefully I can just try get through the first match and see what happens from there.

“Obviously it will be very difficult but yeah, hopefully the weather stays good and keep hitting good shots, hopefully I will be alright.”

O’Keeffe, who finished runner-up last year, began the day with a one shot lead and despite a solid 71, he finished T2 on Thursday evening. Robert Moran (Castle) carded a 69 to finish T6 along with 2021 champion TJ Ford (Co Sligo) at -4.

Only eight players finished under par after the two rounds of stroke play, and Hearn, who carded rounds of 70 and 69, also knows that things could change over the weekend.

“The match play is almost like a separate tournament, you have got to approach it like you are starting off the same as everybody else,” said Hearn.

“You have just got to go play some good golf. I’m happy with the way I’m hitting it. It’s good enough to compete with anybody here so enjoying it.”

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