Amateur Championship: Classy Kennedy eases into last-32 in Ballyliffin

Ronan MacNamara

Max Kennedy (Photo by Oisin Keniry/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Max Kennedy is the last Irishman standing in Ballyliffin after he cruised into the last-32 of the 129th Amateur Championship.

The Royal Dublin star was a 3&2 winner over Frenchman Oscar Coilleau and was one of the first players to advance into tomorrow where players will be faced with the prospect of playing two matches per day should they progress.

“I played really nicely, didn’t do a whole lot wrong, got up and down from the right places and just played really smoothly,” said Kennedy.

The Dubliner got up early on his opponent but arguably more important were a couple of clutch up and downs from bunkers to keep his opponent at arms length as he turned 2 UP.

Kennedy pulled away 3UP after 12 holes and was able to close out his match with a two-putt par from the front of the 16th green.

“The one on 7 was really good, two putt on 8 and then the up and down on 9 and 10 just settled the nerves and allowed me to go on and play really well coming in.”

Sensible golf was the approach for Kennedy in the 36-hole strokeplay where rounds of 70 and 73 saw him qualify in a share of 11th spot on level-par and he wasn’t going to be caught out playing aggressively for the sake of it early in the matchplay stages.

“I tried not to actually, a lot of people try and get a little aggressive in matchplay but I tried to stick to the same routines and doing the same thing and keeping it really consistent.”

26 Irishmen teed it up in the strokeplay qualifying but after 36 holes that number was disintegrated to just two with Kennedy and Seán Keeling the only two survivors of the 64-player cut.

Now the lone Irishman, Kennedy is relishing the prospect of flying the flag over the closing stages having served as a flag boy in 2019 when James Sugrue won the Amateur Championship in Portmarnock.

“What Sugrue did in 2019 was unbelievable. I was working as a flag boy that day so it definitely gives me motivation to come and win this week!”

Roganstown star Keeling put on a storming finish on Tuesday evening to make the cut but he never got going in his match as he was comfortably beaten 5&3 by Ukraine’s Lev Grinberg.

Meanwhile, leading qualifier and Walker Cup star Connor Graham edged through on the 18th against England’s Mark Stockade while Welsh Walker Cupper James Ashfield earned a thumping 6&4 victory over Harley Smith.

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