31 March 2024

~4 minutes read

Doogue shows calm in Sligo storm

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Doogue shows calm in Sligo storm

Castleknock golfer Mark Doogue progressed as leading qualifier into the match play stages of the Connolly Motor Group West of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at County Sligo.

Conditions deteriorated dramatically on Saturday afternoon and with Doogue in the clubhouse on -2, after a second round 73, he would not be caught at the top of the leaderboard.

The closing stretch was damaging on most cards and it left the 26-year-old Baltinglass man as the sole survivor under par. Keith Egan (Carton House) and reigning Bridgestone Order of Merit champion David Shiel (Enniscrone) were the only other players to register a level par total.

Doogue will try to emulate last year’s winner from England, James Claridge, who also finished top of the standings prior to the knockout stages however with 64 competitors and plenty of quality remaining that will be a big ask.

He birdied his first hole but it was only one of three on his card today, with three closing bogeys from 13 onwards ensuring Doogue finished with +2 for the day. Nevertheless, it was enough, on a tough day for scoring.

“My goal at the start of the week was just to make the cut and see what happens. Look, that is that goal achieved now and it is on to the next one. One match at a time now,” said Doogue.

“I played well. I got off to a shaky start. I birdied the first but I missed a short putt on the second. I stayed patient because I knew I had the wind coming down from five to eight. It’s always nice to birdie the fifth and the eighth.

“Dropped a couple of shots coming in, I was just trying to guide it home and I just left myself too long putts and three-putted a couple of times. But overall happy with how I played and looking forward to it.”

Shiel will be one of the leading contenders heading into the match play stages but with Walker Cup star Matt McClean (Malone), last year’s South of Ireland winner, Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint), and fellow experienced campaigners Hugh Foley (Royal Dublin) and Peter O’Keeffe (Douglas), it is a star-studded line-up.

Egan will also fancy his chances after he registered one of the best rounds of the day with a stunning 70, even though he encountered some of the worst conditions in his back nine.

WoIAC 2024 DL209690

“It was definitely a lot harder today, even putting on the green it was very difficult,” said Egan.

“But it was more so a mental battle today rather than yesterday when there was much better scoring conditions. So it was a grind from start to finish.

“We were all grinding trying to hole putts. Especially from 14 in, it was unbelievably hard, there was no easy hole at all. Even 18, 18 is usually an easy hole but it was difficult today. I think I ripped a six iron and barely got it there.

“It was a totally different day today so I think we are all happy enough.”

Shiel will need to use all of his experience from years playing links golf in the north-west and despite a double-bogey on 16 he was able to finish T2 on Saturday, and keep the momentum flowing ahead of a huge few days at County Sligo.

“The main thing is to set up the match play. I’m comfortable in the qualifying which is nice. I just love this place, feel really in control this week and raring to go for the match play,” said Shiel.

“I absolutely love the head-to-head duel battle. I got tons of match play under my belt last year so really looking forward to that experience.”

View the latest scoring here.

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