Reeve Whitson completes brave comeback to make the last 16 in the West of Ireland Championship

Leading qualifier comes from two down with two to play to pip Eddie McCormack on the 19th


Mourne’s Reeve Whitson became an even hotter favourite to win the Radisson Blu-sponsored West of Ireland Championship at a sunkissed County Sligo when he dodged a second round bullet to take his place in the last 16.

The leading qualifier was two down with two to play to Galway’s Eddie McCormack but escaped an early exit when he holed a crucial 10-footer for a winning par at the 17th and then birdied the last to force extra holes.

The former Spanish Amateur champion, who threw away a four-up lead with five to play to lose on the 19th to Niall Gorey in last year’s semi-finals, hit the pin with a 67-yard pitch to win the 18th in birdie and then captured the first extra hole with a par four after McCormack hit his tee shot in the deep trouble on the left.

“The putt on the 17th was the first good putt I holed all day,” Whitson said. “All I wanted to do was go down 18 with a chance. It was nice to get a result on the 19th. I’ve lost a few matches in championships in extra holes and it was nice to do it here after losing here on the 19th in the semi-finals last year.”

Whitson will face Royal Dublin’s Jeff Hopkins, who beat Tom Gandy from the Isle of Man by one hole. The winner of the Whitson-Hopkins match is due to meet Co Sligo’s Steffan O’Hara or Stackstown left-hander Richard Bridges in the quarter-finals.

Bridges beat Jake Whelan by one hole after the Dublin schoolboy had caused a huge shock by beating defending champion Rory McNamara 2 and 1 in the first round.

Irish Amateur Open champion Robbie Cannon hit every green, racking up four birdies before an eagle three at the 12th put him four up and on the road to a 4 and 3 win over close friend Dessie Morgan.

Lucan’s Richie O’Donovan registered two big wins over Kieran Lovelock of the UK and Co Sligo’s Declan Reidy to set up a mouth-watering last 16 meeting with Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy.

One of the favourites, McElroy aced the 13th with a seven-iron in the morning as he beat Fota Island’s Keith Crowley 3 and 2. The 21-year old then beat Castle’s Alex Gleeson 3 and 2 in the afternoon.

Galway’s Joe Lyons beat his old Irish international foursomes partner Pat Murray by one hole and now faces 22-year-old Conor O’Rourke of Naas, whose fellow club mate Jack Hume saw off Michael Buggy and Balmoral’s Matthew McClean and now Dungarvan’s Kevin Stack.

Belvoir Park’s Harry Diamond, the 2012 champion, faces fellow Ulster team-mate Colm Campbell of Warrenpoint, who had a brace of 4 and 3 wins over Lahinch’s Stephen Loftus and Luttrellstown Castle’s Shaun O’Connor respectively. West Waterford’s Gary Hurley beat Co Louth’s Gareth Bohill 3 and 2 to set up a clash with Portmarnock’s James Fox, who had a tight one-hole win over Warrenpoint’s William Hanna.

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