Balbriggan’s Robbie Cannon wins Irish Amateur Open

Play-off win over defending champion Gavin Moynihan and Scottish invader Graeme Robertson

Robbie Cannon: “I set myself the goal a few weeks ago to win a strokeplay championship and they don’t come much bigger than this.” Photograph: Inpho

Robbie Cannon: “I set myself the goal a few weeks ago to win a strokeplay championship and they don’t come much bigger than this.” Photograph: Inpho

Sun, May 12, 2013, 21:48

No daggers drawn at dawn, this three-man duel fought out over the old links at Royal Dublin to decide the Irish Amateur Open last evening involved two Irishmen and a Scot who brandished golf clubs with admirable control in winds that gusted to 50 kilometres an hour; and, in the gathering dusk, Robbie Cannon, a 34-year-old career amateur from Balbriggan, was the last man standing.

Cannon, a full-time fitness consultant, claimed the biggest title of his career with a play-off win over defending champion Gavin Moynihan and Scottish invader Graeme Robertson after the trio finished locked together on 295, seven-over-par, in very difficult scoring conditions.

As if they hadn’t endured a sufficient marathon, a three-hole aggregate play-off reduced the truel to a duel, as Moynihan – who suffered a double bogey six on the 17th, the second play-off hole – departed after a stern and impressive defence of his title.

Fitness work
Then, there were two; and Cannon, using the months of hard fitness work put in over the winter months, finished off the deal with a winning par four to Roberston’s bogey on the 18th, the fourth time they had played the famed Garden Hole over the course of a long day.

Cannon, who captured the South of Ireland title in 2009 and represented Ireland in the Home Internationals, had returned to the Bull Island links “baffled,” as he put it himself, over his past failings on the course.

This time, though, there was no mistaking his liking for the tough course as he fashioned a closing 75, which featured priceless birdies on the 15th and 16th, to force his way into the play-off.

Once there, Cannon held his nerve, epitomised by a bold approach on the 18th hole in the aggregate play-off – from a difficult lie between two fairway bunkers – where he hit a five-iron approach from 240 yards to the green and secured a two-putt par to move on to sudden death against Robertson.

“The shot of my life,” said Cannon afterwards of that approach.

Goal setting
“I set myself the goal a few weeks ago to win a strokeplay championship and they don’t come much bigger than this,” said a jubiliant Cannon, who described his own mental toughness as one of his best attributes of his game.

That fortitude with his physical shape – the best advertisement for his own business - combined to make him a very worthy champion.

For much of the final round, Jack Hume – the 19-year-old Wicklow teenager – had seemed destined to make up for a play-off loss in last week’s Lytham Trophy.

Two-shot cushion
In fact, a 15-footer for birdie on the 15th gave him a two shot cushion but, after parring the 16th, his quest for the title imploded.

Hume missed the green with his approach on the tough 17th and failed to save par and, then, he found a horrid lie in a fairway bunker off the tee on the 18th and ran up a double bogey six for a closing 77 to miss out on the play-off by a shot.