O’Kane leads Ulster charge to ‘North’ crown
It will be an all-Ulster line-up in this morning’s semi-finals of the Magners North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
Moyola Park’s Paul O’Kane fought out a tense dual with the last southern player standing, Cian Curley of Newlands. The match never had any more than a single hole difference until O’Kane sank the winning put at 17.
A student at East Tennessee University, O’Kane he gained revenge for his semi-final defeat by Curley in the Irish Close at Brittas Bay two months ago.
Earlier he birdied the second tie hole to beat Rory McNamara in an epic battle that would have graced the final.
O’Kane’s last four opponent will be 26-year-old local man Wayne Telford, a special needs Olympic Games coach, who has already reached unchartered territory in this his sixth ‘North’.
Telford, the course record holder with a 64 at the Valley, beat Noel Murray four-and-two in the morning round — the catalyst being a brace of birdies at 14 and 15 before finishing strongly to take out Harry Diamond by two-and-one in the quarters.
Chris Selfridge also from Moyola Park, who only turned 17 in April, is the competition’s surprise package. The Lower Sixth student at St Pious’ College in Magherafelt, produced a barrage of birdies against Belvior’s Chris Carvill in a high calibre match where putting was the essence.
Earlier he had been taken to the final green by Castlerock’s David Mulholland, having to sink a 20-footer for par to protect his one hole advantage.
Irish international and pre-Championship favourite Paul Cutler, from Portstewart, produced the goods around the ‘Amen Corner’ of this magnificent links with an eagle at the ninth to square his match with City of Derry’s Sean Morrison having lost the sixth.
A concession at the 12th, birdies at 13 and 14, a couple of pars and suddenly it was game over.
Previously Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell jnr, despite playing par golf himself, had no answer to Cutler’s power off the tee and precision around the greens, losing out six-and-five.