Albatross on 13 helps Pat Murray get out of jail in South of Ireland championship

Shane Lowry’s younger brother Alan digs deep to defeat Kelan McDonagh on 18th

Sometimes it's written in the stars but when Pat Murray got out of jail to beat Scotland's Keith Mackenzie on the 19th in the second round of the Clare Coast Hotels-sponsored South of Ireland Championship, the clouds parted and he was lit up by a celestial ray of sunshine.

The 43-year old, who finally achieved his life’s ambition by winning the “South” in 2012, arrived at the Co Clare links facing two major challenges.

The first of them was purely physical – a stomach bug which has knocked him for six since he helped Munster to their second Interprovincial title in the last three years just last Thursday.

The second is even more daunting. Given the hugely competitive amateur scene, he knows that in all likelihood, he must win the title for the second time here on Wednesday to have any chance of making the 11-man Ireland team for next month’s Home International matches in Wales.


“I was here to win anyway,” Murray said after beating Mackenzie with a bogey five on the first extra hole of a match that he clawed back to all square with a hole-in-one – an albatross – on the 279-yard, par-four 13th.

‘Going to win’

“And if you are going to win you are probably going to have to get out of jail at least once,” added Murray.

It was not his first albatross in championship competition having also aced the 16th at Royal Dublin in the Irish Amateur Open.

“It started down the right, moved a bit left and ran up the slope at the back of the green,” Murray said of his tee shot with a driver.

“I didn’t see it but I’m told it came back down in slow motion and went in.”

Both men had chances to edge in front over the last five holes with Mazkenzie, an impressive 8 and 6 winner over Clare hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald on Saturday, holing from 10 feet at the 17th to remain all square before missing a 10-footer for a birdie and the match at the 18th.

The Scot looked favourite to go through when he hit a huge drive down the 19th and Murray hooked his tee shot into the first bunker on the left.

But his approach rolled off the green into the front trap and with Murray safely on the green in three, he flew the green with his third, chipped to three feet and missed the putt to send the Limerick Golf Club secretary manager into the third round.

Surprisingly omitted

Murray now faces 15-year old Seán Doyle from Athlone, who was surprisingly omitted from the boys’ side for next week’s Home Internationals.

While Murray survived, there was no luck for his Munster team-mate Gary O'Flaherty of Cork, who was beaten on 20th when Ballybunion's Ed Stack hit his approach to six feet and holed for a winning eagle three.

The vast majority of the fancied contenders cruised into the third round, with international hopeful Geoff Lenehan easing to a 4 and 3 win over Clonmel’s Ronan Purcell, 2009 champion Robbie Canon beating Greg Carew 3 and 2 and North of Ireland champion Chris Selfridge beating Ardee’s Evan Farrell 2 and 1.

Shane Lowry never won the South but his younger brother Alan (21) had to dig deep to defeat 2010 runner-up Kelan McDonagh on the 18th.

“I was five down after five,” Lowry said with a sheepish green.

“He birdied two and I doubled two and bogeyed the fifth so after that I managed to steady the ship.

Veterans Arthur Pierse (63) and Eddie Power (49) also eased their way in the third round with comfortable wins over Dungarvan's Jack Leacy and Carton House's Colin Cunningham respectively

“Nothing out of the ordinary,” Power said. “Just steady stuff. There’s a lot of golf to be played yet.”