David Micheluzzi stayed on course for success at The 124th Amateur Championship by winning his all-Australian contest to advance to the last-32 at Portmarnock in Ireland.
The top-ranked player in the field, sitting at seventh place on the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, came through a tight tie with compatriot and good friend Kyle Michel.
Micheluzzi, who reached the quarter-finals at Royal Aberdeen last year and is seeking to become the first Australian winner of The Amateur since Bryden Macpherson in 2011, defeated Michel by two holes.
“It was a grind, as I think I only hit three or four fairways so I had to rely on hitting it out into the right spots and making putts inside 10 feet which I did,” said Micheluzzi. “My short game and putting is what I do best and I’ve just got to hit more fairways and greens for now on. It’s an amazing course and a great test, there are no easy holes and you have to think on every shot.
“I was looking at my phone last night and saw that I was playing Kyle which was crazy. As two Victorian golfers, we wanted to meet each other later in the competition but these things happen.
“We train three or four times together in Australia and I see way too much of him in our programmes! We have a lot of fun and banter and it felt a bit weird playing a mate in this calibre of event.”
The 22-year-old advanced to meet Tom Sloman in tomorrow’s third round after the Englishman, also ranked highly at 28th in the world, displayed all of his battling qualities to defeat fellow countryman Joseph Pagdin by one hole.
Four down after 11 holes, Sloman was making plans to head home before the Great Britain and Ireland squad member produced a brilliant fightback that he capped on the final green.
He said, “I thought I was going home, four down after 11. I was about to get on the phone actually and book my flight but I hung on in there. Joe didn’t play too great coming in and I played pretty well all day. I just didn’t hole any putts, until a couple late on, as he struggled. I got a little lucky at times, to be fair, but you take it when it comes.
“It’s a tough course and I’ve not had my best game, but I’ve been grinding it out. I’ll need to get back on the range and hit more balls ahead of tomorrow.”
With Portmarnock hosting The Amateur Championship for only the second time after the previous staging in 1949, the famous links near Dublin is also being enjoyed by another English player, Thomas Plumb.
The leading qualifier from the stroke play stage wasted little time in reaching the third round after comfortably seeing off the challenge of Alejandro del Rey Gonzalez 7&5.
“I kept things going from yesterday and started off quickly, making birdies on one and two,” said Plumb. “I struck it into the first hole to about six feet and holed about a 20 foot putt on the second. I felt if I kept playing like that it wasn’t going to be too much of a problem.
“I’m superstitious myself so you do think about the history of top qualifiers often losing in the first round. Regardless of where I go in the tournament, I thought getting through the first round tie was going to be the hardest one.”
Plumb raced to a five up lead at the turn and then almost holed his approach shot to the 11th before sealing the contest at the 13th. There was also a convincing victory from Germany’s Matthias Schmid as he came close to the biggest margin of victory possible in match play. The 21-year-old, a winner on the college circuit at the University of Louisville this year, won the opening five holes against Sam Done and triumphed 9&8.
Schmid said, “It was definitely the biggest win of my life, by far. It was fun. I hit a good tee shot on the first and made birdie. As soon as I did that, I had the pressure on Sam. I played well, I didn’t make any mistakes, didn’t make a bogey and made five birdies.
“When I was five up after five, I said to my caddy ‘wow, I’ve never done this before’. I just tried to keep going and stay aggressive as I knew it would be an incredible comeback if he came back. This is my third Amateur Championship and I had missed the cut twice before so this is the best I’ve ever done. The course suits my eye.”
In another remarkable match, this time in a preliminary first round tie, Italy’s Giovanni Manzoni finally advanced at the 25th hole after a marathon meeting with Eduard Rousaud from Spain.
On another dry and sunny day at Portmarnock, the venue for the 1991 Walker Cup, Irish hopes also remain alive. James Sugrue defeated Harry Hall by two holes, while Ronan Mullarney progressed after beating Jake Bolton 2&1.Event Information
The match play stage continues tomorrow with the last-32 and last-16 ties, with the winner in Saturday’s 36-hole final gaining exemptions into The Open at Royal Portrush next month, the 2020 US Open at Winged Foot and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament.
Entry is free of charge throughout the week for all spectators at Portmarnock while live scoring, news and video can be followed on The R&A’s website and social media platforms.