Galgorm Castle’s Michael Reid believes it could be survival of the fittest at Royal Portrush after he progressed through two rounds littered with shocks on the first day of match play at the North of Ireland Amateur Open.
Top seed Reid managed to reach the third round after beating Scrabo’s Adam McCormick in the last-64 — needing two extra holes to do so — and then defeating Belvoir Park’s Gareth Lappin 3&1 in the last-32, but it was a day that saw several big names make their exits.
Defending champion Arron Edwards-Hill was eliminated in the first round by Royal Dublin’s Richard Knightly, while Reid’s fellow top seed, and also fellow Galgorm club man, Joshua Hill was taken down by Mullingar’s Adam Smith in the second round, 3&2.
In total, only two of the top-16 qualifiers made it through to today’s third round — with the quarter-finals also being played in the afternoon — and Reid believes whoever can pace themselves strategically will come out on top.
“It was a tiring day, especially after playing to the 20th in round one. It’s all about playing match by match, and getting rests in between matches,” said Reid, who will face Elm Park’s John Cleary in the last-16.
“The North is my favourite out of the four regional championships. I just love the course at Royal Portrush. I’m looking for more of the same (today), and do whatever I can.”
The other two Ulster players to reach the third round were Dunmurry’s Chris Black, who has a last-16 tie with another Elm Park man in Robert Galligan, and Lisburn’s Joshua Robinson, who will play Royal Dublin’s Shaun Carter.
Meanwhile, Clandeboye’s Rebekah Gardner will go into the match play of the Irish Girls’ Close as the top seed after the stroke play qualifying at Tramore, with rounds of 69 and 77 seeing her finish top at four-under-par.
It will be a familiar match-up in the last-16 for Gardner as she will face fellow Clandeboye member Molly O’Hara in this morning’s first round, while Knock’s Katie Poots and Kirkistown Castle’s Beth Coulter finished second and third and will face Anna Abom (Edmondstown) and Hannah Guerin (Royal Tara) respectively.
“I hit it really well and placed the ball well off the tee,” said Gardner. “If you hit the ball in the rough it sits down, so I was happy to keep the ball in play today. Then my short game and putting were on too so everything came together.”
Elsewhere, Clandeboye’s Colm Murphy is in contention after the first round of the Irish Men’s Senior Close at Waterford after a one-under 70, which has him in a share of the lead with Douglas’ Karl Bornemann.
Bornemann’s opening round included a pair of 2’s, while Murphy added an eagle at the par 5 12th before bogeys on his closing two holes brought him back to the field.