Cairndhu’s Ryan McKinstry held off a spirited late charge from Royal Dublin’s Sean Ryan to qualify for this afternoon’s quarter-finals of the South of Ireland Championship at Lahinch.
The 20-year old Queens Univeristy student, winner of the Ulster Youths and Leinster Boys titles in 2011, won by two holes after a tough battle in southwest winds gusting up to 20mph.
Beaten by eventual champion Cormac Sharvin in the quarter-finals of the Irish Close last month, McKinstry was two up after four holes and three up with four to play but lost the 15th and 17th to pars to go to the 18th just one up.
“It was a great match and Sean really threw the kitchen sink at me coming down the stretch,” said pharmacy student McKinstry, who was runner up in this year’s British Univiersities Championship at Crail.
Ryan, who reached the quarter-finals last year, had a 10-foot birdie chance at the last with McKinstry just six feet away in three, but missed it and promptly shook hands.
McKinstry will play Rathmore’s Ben Best who beat Ardee’s Eugene Smith at the 21st.
Kilkenny’s Paul O’Hara edged out Warrenpoint’s Stephen Coulter by 2 and 1 and will take on Knock’s Nicky Grant, who beat Carton House’s Colin Cunningham by the same score.
Three up after 11 holes, Grant bogeyed the 14th and double bogeyed the 15th to see his lead reduced to one hole but took the 16th in par and closed out the match at the next.
In the bottom half of the draw, Castle’s Alex Gleeson had an impresssive 5 and 4 win over Shannon’s Ed Hickey to set up a quarter-final match with Jamie Rothwell or Bryan McSweeney.
The 19-year old UCD student, who made his debut for Leinster in the Senior Interprovicial Matches last week, took control his match when he holed a crucial putt for a half to remain two up after six and then won the seventh before holing a 10 footer for a win to go three up at the eighth.
“It’s my first year in men’s golf and it’s been a huge step up,” said Gleeson, who won the Connacht, Ulster and Irish Under 15s titles in 2009. “I knew it was going to be tough but the Interpros were a massive eye-opener. The standard is very high but I’m delighted to have won this morning.”
Gleeson will play Royal Dublin’s Bryan McSweeney or the Curragh’s Jamie Rothwell, with McSweeney 1 up with three to play.
Simon Ward was 2 up after 15 holes against Galgorm Castle’s Jamie Sutherland with the winner of that one taking on last year’s runner up Stephen Healy from Claremorris who had a 5 and 4 win over Stackstown’s Richard Bridges.