Cannon roars into semi-finals in West of Ireland Amateur Open
Winner of two amateur championships in Ireland takes on Mourne’s Reeve Whitson
Reeve Whitson (pictured) is set to challenge Robbie Cannon in the West of Ireland Amateur Open semi-finals.
Robbie Cannon will be the odd man out in the semi-finals of the Radisson Blu sponsored West of Ireland Amateur Open – not because he’s the senior man at 35 but because he’s the only one with not one but two amateur “majors” under his belt.
The 2009 South of Ireland champion caused a stir when he won last year’s Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin and failed to earn a call up for the home internationals.
A career amateur, his plight said much about the strength in depth of Irish amateur golf in the era of the full-time amateur, and he faces one in the first semi-final when he takes on 22-year-old Reeve Whitson of Mourne, the leading qualifier, on the Co Sligo links.
After a sun-kissed day at Rosses Point, the Balbriggan man beat John Ross Galbraith of Whitehead by 4 and 2, before crushing Lucan’s Richard O’Donovan by 5 and 4.
O’Donovan appeared to have confirmed his return to form when he holed a 60-footer for birdie to despatch the fancied Dermot McElroy at the 19th in the morning. But he had no answer to Cannon’s salvos after lunch and after losing the first three holes, he was well beaten by a player maturing into a serial championship contender.
Nothing to prove
“I’ve nothing to prove,” said Cannon, who is a professional strength and conditioning coach. “I am much more mature as a golfer at this stage, I’m just enjoying it and I have nothing to lose.”
Whitson won the illustrious Spanish Amateur Open Matchplay Championship last year and the Ireland international admits an Irish “major” would be special. But after throwing away a four-up lead with five to go to lose on he 19th in the semifinals 12 months ago, he’s taking nothing for granted.
“To win one of the Irish events would be as big as winning in Spain,” said Whitson, who beat Jeff Hopkins 3 and 1 before breaking the hearts of the huge local support with a comfortable 5 and 3 quarter-final win over Co Sligo’s Steffan O’Hara.
“I knew it would be tough to get through against Steffan but I felt I concentrated really well . . . and I was really well focused and kept hitting good shots.”
West Waterford’s Gary Hurley (21) will be looking for revenge when he takes on 20-year old pal and fellow Irish international Jack Hume from Naas in the other semi-final.
Hurley lost on the 22nd to the Naas man in the last 16 12 months ago, but after crushing Portmarnock’s James Fox 7 and 5 and Galway’s Joe Lyons 8 and 6, he’s gunning for his first amateur “major.”
“It was so cold the day Jack beat me last year you could hardly feel your hands,” he said. “Hopefully it will be warmer tomorrow . . . it would be great to win a championship.”
Hume, pegged back from four up to just two up after 13, had to hole three clutch putts for halves on the 14th, 15th and 16th before seeing off the combative Warrenpoint man Colm Campbell 3 and 1.