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WATC: Ireland lose ground as Monty blows title bid off course

​​Ireland 12 shots behind leaders New Zealand after disappointing return in round three of the Eisenhower Trophy

  • 07 September 2018

Picture: Conor Purcell reacts after holing his birdie putt on 18 | Cashman Photography




Ireland fell flat in round three of the World Amateur Team Championship at Carton House, dropping from second to 12th as their title bid was blown off course.

The home side finished one over for their round on the Montgomerie and at 18 under they now find themselves trailing leaders New Zealand by 12 shots. Having begun the day just one behind, medals are now a distant prospect with three teams - Spain, USA and Thailand - currently tied for second on 27 under.

To claim a podium place from this position would require something special although Portmarnock's Conor Purcell, who battled back from three over to finish under par, is not discounting Ireland's chances.

"We're far from out of it," Purcell insisted. "We just need to keep our heads up and a positive attitude going into tomorrow."


 

The 21-year-old carved out a 71, Ireland's best score, with three birdies in his last six holes. It might have been better too, Purell burned the hole with an eagle putt on 15, but after a dispiriting start he could not be discontent.

"I never really got it going," he reflected. "I laid-up from a fairway bunker into a fairway bunker on five for a double. Followed that with a bogey on six. Par was in my head at that stage. Make my score count."

Below: Robin Dawson escaping the sand
Robin Dawson (Ireland)3.jpg

A brave par-save on 12 from 30 feet after escaping the greenside bunker gave him some much needed momentum and he followed it with a birdie, getting up and down from the back of the 13th green. He scrambled smartly again at the next having missed the green on the short side before setting up an eagle shot on 15, lasering a 3-iron from 230 yards some 15 feet past the pin.

He had to settle for birdie when his ball kissed the edge and further chances were missed on 16 and 17. After pushing his second shot right, inches from the hazard, he played a delicate flop shot onto the green, and slotted the birdie from 18 feet.

"I think we need to stand back and just look at what we've done over the first two days," said Purcell. "We put ourselves in with a shout and we've a great opportunity to go out there tomorrow and make plenty of birdies and catch up lots of ground."

Team captain John Carroll echoed that rallying call.

"Nothing to lose tomorrow," said Carroll. "A couple of 65 and 66s and see where it takes us. That's what we have to do. You never know."

John Carroll (Irish Team Captain).jpg
Above: Ireland team captain John Carroll

Given that Ireland reached 19 under at halfway, the potential to go low is readily apparent. The 74s recorded by John Murphy and Robin Dawson in round three were out of sync with the rhythm they had found on previous days.

"We definitely have the firing power to shoot a couple of 63s or 64 or something like that," said Dawson, sounding upbeat. "With me, it's just a small tweak. If I get the putter hot I'll go really low."

Birdies are a prerequisite on the final day and Ireland will begin the fourth round at 12.48pm from the 10th tee on the O'Meara Course in the company of Scotland (T12) and Sweden (T15). 

When asked what's needed tomorrow, team coach Neil Manchip stated: "Fast start, fast middle and a fast end."

Simple as it sounds, Ireland know how complicated it can get. Tomorrow is their last chance.

The World Amateur Team Championships are being hosted by the ILGU and GUI with support from Sport Ireland.

Below: Ireland's John Murphy
John Murphy (Ireland)3.jpg