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Jessica is delighted to top qualifying in hunt for Irish crown

 

Keeping pace: Paula Grant is through to the matchplay stages
Keeping pace: Paula Grant is through to the matchplay stages

By Paul Kelly

Clandeboye's Jessica Ross topped qualifying at the Irish Women's Close Championship yesterday at Woodbrook GC.

Ross posted rounds of 70-73 to lead the way on five under, two shots ahead of Paula Grant (Lisburn), Lauren Walsh (Castlewarden) and Annabel Wilson (Lurgan).

Despite an opening round of four under, Ross struggled to get going in the second and was three over after four holes.

"I don't even think I played that badly on the first few, I just hadn't woken up again after lunch. It took me a while to get going again but I holed from about 50ft on 18 to get back under par to finish which was nice," said the 23-year-old.

The Championship now progresses to the matchplay stages where the top 32 have qualified for the first flight. The next 16 have qualified to play in the Ita Wallace Trophy.

Meanwhile, Ronan Mullarney and James Sugrue maintained hopes of home success in The 124th Amateur Championship after sealing places in the quarter-finals at Portmarnock.

Mullarney claimed a 4&3 victory over Sweden's Ludvig Aberg in the last 32 before coming through against Englishman Matty Lamb. The 23-year-old Galway golfer was five up after 11 before a superb comeback from Lamb took the match to the 18th green where the Irishman made par for a one-hole victory.

Sugrue also thrilled the home fans by coming back from three down with four to play against Christoffer Palsson, defeating the Swede on the final green.

The 22-year-old Mallow member then continued his impressive play in the last 16, seeing off the challenge of Sergio Parriego Cornejo from Spain 5&3.

Sugrue now faces Koen Kouwenaar from the Netherlands, a victor over Matthias Schmid 3&2, while Mullarney comes up against Benjamin Jones, who continued his fine form after winning an all-England last 16 tie against Bailey Gill 2&1.

The quarter-finals and the semi-finals take place today with the winner in tomorrow's 36-hole final gaining exemptions into The Open at Royal Portrush next month, the 2020 US Open at Winged Foot and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament.

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