Damien McGrane, Michael McGeady and Paul Eivers all claimed 100% records from their three group matches as they stormed into the quarter-finals of the Annesley Williams Irish PGA Nine-Hole Matchplay at Sutton Golf Club.
Brian McCormack Jnr, Nicky Grant, Neil O’Briain, Eddie Tracey and Richard Kilpatrick also progressed into the last eight on a sun kissed but blustery day.
McGrane was the first to progress to Sunday’s knockout stages and he breezed through a group of death, picking up maximum points against Irish PGA Champion David Higgins, Simon Thornton and David Ryan.
Derry’s McGeady was next into the quarter-final with a clean sweep as he played his three matches bogey-free to advance Group 1 with wins over Daniel Sugrue, David Hughes and Richard Bridges.
“It’s nice to get through, nine hole matches are always quite difficult to come through you have to be out of the blocks nice and fast so it’s nice to get three wins,” said the former Irish PGA Champion.
“I didn’t make a bogey which helps out here and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
This is the only matchplay event on the PGA in Ireland region and McGeady would like to see more of it.
“Matchplay is something that’s good and this is a nice format, nine holes are nice, it’s fast and gets it done. Eighteen hole matches can be a bit too much, it’s a lot of golf so this doesn’t feel as and I’ve played three matches and only played 25 holes so it’s good.”
McGrane versus McGeady promises to be a thrilling sprint over nine holes on Sunday with potentially more needed to separate the two big hitters.
Eivers continued his fine form, taking six points from a group involving Glen Robinson, Brian McElhinney and Colm Moriarty to tee up a last-8 clash with McGuirks man O’Briain.
The Cahir Park man has three wins on the region this season and he would love to round off the summer with a fourth victory.
“I’m playing well, hitting the ball quite well and fortunately held a few putts today so it was nice to get through. Matchplay is unique with the nine holes whoever comes out of the stall fist really does the job. This event is an icing on the cake we all look forward to it so it’s great to be here.”
Clandeboye’s Grant survived a winner takes all clash with Cian Geraghty to edge into a quarter-final. The Douglas pro-am winner opened with a draw before wins over Niall McGlynn and Laytown & Bettystown’s Geraghty – who was two wins from two – saw hm continue his fine late season form.
“I didn’t expect much it was a very tight match with Cian I had such a bad start I’ve bogeyed the first in all three matches. I know him well I’ve played a lot with him I know his game.
“I’ve been down in every match so far but the last three holes have been very good to me I held the putts when I needed to. I’ve been playing very well recently and just not had the results so I kept saying to my fiancé, I’m playing well and it’ll happen so I’m delighted.”
Grant will face McCormack who only needed four points to advance through a tightly packed group 4. The Offaly man beat Shane Jenkinson in his first game before being beaten by Brian Cosgrove.
McCormack had to do things the hard way in a winner takes all tie with Jimmy Bolger with the latter opening with three successive birdies to roar 2UP but McCormack battled back to win on the ninth hole and book his place in the quarter-finals of his favourite tournament on the PGA in Ireland region.
“I’m delighted, the heart rate is still going a little bit from the last game but definitely my favourite tournament of the year it’s what we all lead up to it’s a great finale and it’s the best paired competition ever because it’s made for nine hole matchplay because of the amount of birdies you can make and it’s very easy to make mistakes too.
“Jimmy got off to a good start and then there wasn’t a whole lot of mistakes from either of us. I needed to win because of how the draw was so there was no point being conservative so to see it out down the last was pleasing.”
Meanwhile there was playoff drama in the final groups as O’Briain pipped Andrew Hogan of Edmondstown to progress to Sunday while local favourite Patrick Devine (Sutton PGA Pro) won two and halved one of his three matches but unfortunately bowed out as Eddie Tracey advanced on aggregate holes.
In Group 8 Ciaran Molloy, Richard Kilpatrick and Tim Rice were still battling valiantly down the first again in a three-way playoff for the eighth and final quarter-final spot.
Molloy bowed out after a bogey on the first playoff hole but Kilpatrick and defending champion Rice produced a ding dong battle worthy of a knockout match as they lasted a staggering seven holes with daylight growing weaker with each hole.
After a couple of sensational pars from Rice, Kilpatrick finally managed to shirk the challenge on the seventh and complete the knockout lineup.