Three birdies in his last six holes took defending Munster Amateur Open champion Jake Whelan from the pack and into the last-16 as he made the cut on the mark in Cork Golf Club.
The Grange golfer recovered from a difficult morning round of 75 with a gutsy afternoon 69 to progress from the 36-hole stroke play qualifying on level-par and he will face local favourite Brian Kelleher (Cork) on Sunday morning.
“Played OK today for the first nine holes and the back nine of the first round wasn’t great, made a lot of silly mistakes and some mental errors,” said Whelan. “I was outside the cut for most of the day with three birdies in the last six holes so it was about hanging in for most of the day.
“I putted OK just didn’t hole much in the morning but held a few nice ones coming in which helps.”
Whelan finished eight shots behind leading qualifier James Walsh of Douglas but he is braced for a completely different challenge in the matchplay format.
“Strokeplay goes out the window now that it’s matchplay, everything is up in the air. It’s about who hits the right shots at the right time or who can get off to a fast start anyone can win it when it comes to matchplay so take it one match at a time, winning the first match always seems to be the hardest thing to do so try and take care of that.”
Cork native Walsh finished on eight-under and was the top dog after 36 holes.
The Douglas golfer shot rounds of 67 and 69, with Evan Farrell (Co Louth) and David Shiel (Enniscrone) finishing joint second on the day, both at -5.
Fresh off his recent win in the Dublin Scratch Foursomes, John Cunningham (Carton House) made ground early in the day and his sensational 65 ensured he took the clubhouse lead at -7 after Round 1.
Walsh will face Nenagh’s David Reddan in the top match of the last-16 while Cunningham will have to get past Tralee’s Eoghan O’Donnell in the last match of the morning.
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