Four Irish boys progressed through to the second round of 32 at the 92nd Boys Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush today.
Mark Power, second in the stroke play qualifying, reached Friday’s second round with a 2&1 win over countryman Alex Maguire. The two-time Irish Boys Amateur Champion started well with two birdies and an eagle to be three up after five holes. Maguire looked to stage a comeback with birdies on the 12th and 14th but, as the dark clouds rolled in and the heavens opened, Power kept his cool and secured the win at the 17th.
“I am just relieved.” Said Power. “I was cruising and off to a nice start. I had two birdies and an eagle in my first five holes to go three up. I just played steady but I missed a few short putts so I could have easily been five or six up after ten when I was only three or four.
“Alex holed a few nice putts. He birdied 12 and birdied 14 so he kind of came back at me. The wind just howled and the rain came in over the last four holes so it was a bit of a struggle coming in.
“I made a good par when I needed to to win so I’m looking forward to the next round.”
Power will now face Italian Simone Armando Colozza in the second round on Friday morning.
In another all Ireland clash, Mullingar Golf Clubs Adam Smith beat David Kitt (Athenry) on the 19th while Joshua Robinson (Lisburn) beat Charles Larcelet from France on the 20th hole.
Eoin Murphy (Dundalk) also progressed after a 1 up win against Ronan Kieu of Switzerland.
Leading qualifier Robin Williams, who was a semi-finalist last year, defeated Wales’ Archie Davies 5&4. The pair enjoyed a close tussle until reaching the 12th where Williams, in a fine display of driving, moved up a gear to open a gap and see out the match at the 14th.
The 16-year-old England boy internationalist will now play Scotland’s Aidan O’Hagan, who recorded a two-hole victory over the Netherlands’ Kiet Van Der Weele. The 14-year-old, playing in his first Boys Amateur Championship, held his resolve to deal with the wind and come through the match in style.
Nicolai Højgaard, who moved into the top ten of the World Amateur Golf Ranking this week and is the highest-ranked player in the field, also secured his spot in the next round following an impressive 4&3 victory over his good friend Eduard Rousaud.
The Dane will now play Australian-based Scot Connor McKinney, who defeated Russia’s Artem Yalovenka 4&3. The 16-year-old is another making his Boys Amateur debut following his family’s relocation from Dunfermline in Fife to Perth in Western Australia three years ago.
Højgaard’s twin, Rasmus, exited the championship after a close match with Conor Gough that required four extra holes. The 15-year-old England boy internationalist recorded one bogey throughout in a match that was testament to the high quality golf played by both players. He now takes on countryman Matthew Jackman on Friday.
Defending champion Pedro Lencart is still on track to become only the third player to win back-to-back championships, and the first since 1930, thanks to a 2&1 victory over England’s James Cooper. The 18-year-old from Portugal, who also won the Junior Open in 2016, is playing in his final Boys Amateur Championship after lifting the trophy last year at Nairn.