Schoolboy David Kitt into semi-finals of Irish Amateur Close

Former Boys internationals Marc Norton and Jamie Fletcher could meet in the final

David Kitt. “I knew if I played well I would have a good chance around here. It’s not too long a course for me,” said the 17-year-old schoolboy.  Photograph: Pat Cashman

David Kitt. “I knew if I played well I would have a good chance around here. It’s not too long a course for me,” said the 17-year-old schoolboy. Photograph: Pat Cashman

 

Former Boys internationals Marc Norton and Jamie Fletcher could meet in the final of the AIG Irish Amateur Close today, but the romantics might not be upset if a 17-year-old schoolboy and an unheralded Dubliner come through to dispute the blue riband title at Galway Golf Club.

With a warm breeze and sparkling sunshine replacing the wind and rain that marred the first three days, Athenry schoolboy David Kitt and 25-year old Paul Coughlan from Castleknock remain on course for what would be a fairy-tale victory.

Kitt might have one eye on the start of his fifth-year studies at Holy Rosary College in Mountbellew in a fortnight’s time, but the diminutive Galway hope played like a veteran yesterday as he beat Belvoir Park’s Patrick Brennan by two holes and Cairndhu’s Ryan McKinstry 5 and 4.

He now faces 20-year-old Oakland University scholarship golfer Norton for a place in the final as Coughlan takes on 21-year-old Warrenpoint talent Fletcher having beaten not one but two internationals by one hole yesterday.

Not only did the golf retailer come from one down with three to play to beat Co Sligo’s Sean Flanagan on the 18th, but he also dominated proceedings against Tramore’s Robin Dawson in the afternoon, closing out the win with a chip and putt par at the 18th.

“It’s one person at a time, anyone can win a match,” said Coughlan, who gave Dawson hope by three-putting the 17th.

“Hopefully, I can keep it going. It’s been my best week to date. I was second in Connacht Stroke Play last year but that’s nothing compared to this.”

Like Coughlan, Kitt has nothing to lose against last year’s Leinster Youths champion Norton, who was three-under par and bogey-free when he beat the in-form Dundalk international Caolan Rafferty 2 and 1.

“I knew if I played well I would have a good chance around here,” said Kitt, who was bogey free as he cruised past the powerful McKinstry.

“It is not too long a golf course for me, and even though Ryan was hitting it 50 yards past me today, I knew I had a chance.”

Norton beat Mullingar’s Liam Grehan 3 and 1 before taking a huge step towards the title with a 2 and 1 win over Rafferty, who was superb in the morning as he dashed the hopes of Galway’s Ronan Mullarney 3 and 2.

“My short game this week has been class,” said Norton, who knows Galway well having played it more than a dozen times in previous Boys and Youths events.

“I’ve been getting everything to that holeable distance inside six feet, and the greens here are pure, so if you hit a good putt, it will probably go in.”

Fletcher beat Royal Dublin’s Hugh Foley 3 and 1 before seeing off Co Sligo’s Cian Feeney 2 and 1.

“I was in the quarters two years ago and lost, but I felt a bit more comfortable today,” Fletcher said. “I think I have a good chance now if I keep playing the way I am. If I can get a few more putts dropping, I will be hard to beat.”

AIG Irish Amateur Close, Galway GC

Round 3: C Feeney (Co. Sligo) bt R Pierse (Grange) 21st; J Fletcher (Warrenpoint) bt Hugh Foley (Royal Dublin) 3/1; R Dawson (Tramore) bt O Crooks (Bushfoot) 3/2; P Coughlan (Castleknock) bt S Flanagan (Co Sligo) 1 hole; R McKinstry bt A Ryan (Thurles) 1 hole; D Kitt (Athenry) bt P Brennan (Belvoir Park) 2 holes; C Rafferty (Dundalk) bt R Mullarney (Galway) 3/2; M Norton (Belvoir Park) bt L Grehan (Mullingar) 3/1

Quarter Finals: Fletcher bt Feeney 2/1; Coughlan bt Dawson 1 hole; Kitt bt McKinstry 4/3; Norton bt Rafferty 2/1

Today - Semi Finals: (0800) Fletcher v Coughlan; (0815) Kitt v Norton. Final at 1300.

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