Irish trio at US Amateur avoid real damage in first round

Paul Dunne, Gary Hurley and Cormac Sharvin finish inside the top 64 who will qualify for matchplay stage

Notorious gangster Al Capone once shot himself in the left leg when he played one of his regular money matches at Olympia Fields near Chicago.

But Ireland's trio of US Amateur Championship contenders merely gave themselves flesh wounds in the foot before hobbling away from the first qualifying round with their lives just about intact.

A one-over 71 for Greystones' Paul Dunne and two-over 72s for West Waterford's Maynooth University graduate Gary Hurley and Ardglass' Cormac Sharvin did not result in calls from the local press to hold the back page.

With the Walker Cup side to be announced next Monday – they hope to be named in the 10-man alongside Gavin Moynihan and Jack Hume who are resting after retaining the Home Internationals – the Chicago trio's first task is to finish inside the top 64 who will qualify for the matchplay stages after today's second strokeplay qualifying round over the slightly less taxing South Course.


First hole

“It’s not a bad start considering I made a mess of my first hole,” said Hurley, whose runner-up finish in the European Amateur Championship in Slovakia recently all but secured his Walker Cup place alongside Moynihan and Open hero Dunne, who are considered racing certainties for Royal Lytham and St Annes.

Hurley recovered from his six at the 10th with birdies at the 13th and 14th, but then double bogeyed the 15th after getting “too cute” with a greenside flop shot.

He hardly seemed to break sweat, however, as he played his back nine in level par, following a virtual tap-in birdie at the par-three fourth with a bogey at the ninth, where he had to lay up from the right rough after a slight push off the tee.

Zero confidence

Sharvin confessed that he had zero confidence on the greens early on, and when he slipped to four over after seven holes, the Brabazon Trophy winner had just one thought.

“I was thinking, ‘don’t shoot 80’ so I am really happy with how I fought back,” said Sharvin, who birdied the second and eighth and missed good chances elsewhere. “If someone had offered me a 72 after seven I’d have bitten their arm off.”

Dig deep

British Open hero Dunne was also forced to dig deep as he came back from two over after nine to post a one over 71 that left him provisionally six shots behind early leader Matt Nesmith, who shot a five under 65 on the South Course.

“I wasn’t hitting fairways at the start, but then I started hitting it well in the middle and gave myself some chances,” said Dunne, who got up and down from 80 yards for par at his final hole.

“The goal is just to get to take it one day at a time and get into the matchplay, which is a lottery.”