DERMOT McElroy (Ballymena) put the disappointment of missing the cut at the Irish Open behind him to card a wonderful 63 on the Dunluce course and top qualifying at the North of Ireland Amateur Championship.
McElroy, who turned 19 exactly a month ago, three-putted four times in the second round of the Irish Open to miss out by just one shot and has spent the intervening period working on his short game.
“I saw how the pros go for it. Their putting, generally, is so good so I have been practicing my putting constantly since the Irish Open,” said the former Irish Boys champ.
McElroy bagged 10 birdies in total, his only dropped shot coming at the 13th where he found himself in bunker trouble. He led qualifying on 133 alongside last year’s beaten finalist Harry Diamond (Belvoir) and Connor Doran (Banbridge)
“I thought my 65 was good until I saw Dermot’s 63,” said Diamond,
“I enjoyed my week at the Irish Open and I saw how aggressive the pros are. Level pars don’t make them any money. I learned that much.”
Doran was first to set the qualifying target at 133 as he added a Dunluce 66 to his Valley 67.
“It could have been a 56, as I missed a string of other birdie chances. I got some alignment tips over the internet from my brother Rory who is now pro at Kingston Heath in Australia and that has helped my game,” he said.
The cut was made on 143 with three players on that score missing out. Round one of the match-play stages get underway this morning. With the final scheduled for Friday afternoon.