Three Irish make last 32 of Amateur Championship at Hillside

Ronan MacNamara

SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - JUNE 21: Caolan Rafferty of Ireland walks down the 11th hole during Round Two of Matchplay on Day One of The Amateur Championship at Hillside Golf Club on June 21, 2023 in Southport, United Kingdom. (Photo by Octavio Passos/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Ireland will have three representatives in the last-32 of the Amateur Championship after Caolan Rafferty, Marc Boucher and Alex Maguire progressed on Wednesday afternoon on Merseyside.

Rafferty and Boucher secured comfortable wins while there were mixed fortunes on 18 for Maguire and Liam Nolan with the former birdieing 18 to win while Nolan lost out by the minimum.

After a record 90 players qualified for the knock-out stage at Hillside, Christo Lamprecht, the highest-ranked player in the field, came through two match play ties to progress to the last-32. Lamprecht came through the preliminary round with a narrow one-hole win over Jack Ingham from the Netherlands before seeing off American George Duangmanee 3&2 in the last-64.


Connemara’s Luke O’Neill was beaten on 18 by Michael Mjaaseth of Norway in the morning preliminary round while Kilkenny’s Mark Power lost out 3&2. Nolan and Boucher both secured 2&1 and 2UP wins respectively to march on to the afternoon.

Dundalk’s Rafferty kept up his excellent form this season as he breezed by Dutchman Thom Linssen 4&3 while Boucher of Carton House eased to a 4&3 win over Maxime Legros of France after a blistering start saw him turn 5UP.

St Andrews Links Trophy winner Maguire came from 3 down after nine to birdie 18 and pip Jakob Melin to the post and book his spot in the last-32. The Laytown and Bettystown man played his last four holes of strokeplay qualifying in four-under-par to make the cut on Tuesday evening and last year’s semi-finalist continues to ride the momentum after back-to-back wins at the East and Old Course.

“I’ve had a nice few weeks over the last few weeks. Yeah, but form is a nice thing to say but when you get out on the golf course, you can’t rely on form. You have to commit to the shots. You can’t go out on form and freewheel it. You have to commit to the process and I did a good job doing that.

“I did make a nice run at it last year. And love to see how far I can get in this but it’s a tough cut to make, obviously with the cut and the chaos and a lot of guys on 2 and 3. I was fortunate, I think a few things have gone my way over the last few days and long may it continue.”

Brabazon Trophy winner Nolan was involved in a very tight match with Kristin Hjort Bressum but he was beaten on the 18th. The Galway man trailed for much of the contest and found himself two down at the turn but rallied back to level affairs on 16.

Having lost the 17th, Nolan saw a birdie to extend from 20-feet turn its nose up at the hole thus bringing his week to an end.

Leading qualifier Ben Van Wyk of South Africa lost out by two holes to Wales’ Caolan Burford, who reached the quarter-finals of last year’s R&A Boys’ Amateur at Carnoustie.

England’s John Gough, a semi-finalist a year ago and a renowned match play specialist, also progressed to the last-32 after a 2&1 triumph against Oliver Mukherjee, the reigning Scottish Amateur champion. Gough has won both the Australian Master of the Amateurs and the Irish Amateur Open this year and closed out his win with a battling half at the par-5 17th.

Frank Kennedy continued the form that saw the 17-year-old win the Lytham Trophy earlier this season as he beat Mark Stockdale 4&2 in an all-English tie.

Richard Teder from Estonia, who finished joint-second in stroke play qualifying, also reached the last-32 after his 2&1 win against England’s Charlie Crockett.

American Tommy Morrison, who attends the University of Texas, was a winner too, beating Swede Gustav Andersson 5&4 thanks to quickly adapting to the links conditions on his first visit to the UK.

Sweden’s Albert Hansson, the reigning Boys’ Amateur Champion, also bowed out losing 5&4 to England’s James Claridge.

On Thursday, 2019 Walker Cup star Rafferty will battle Thailand’s TK Chantananuwat while Maguire meets Belgian Jarno Tallenaire.

Boucher will bid to get past South Africa’s Tyren Snyders.


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