Headfort’s McNamara powers to 5 and 4 victory over Gorey
23-year-old shows killer instinct in West of Ireland final
The killer instinct is crucial in matchplay and Headfort’s Rory McNamara showed that he has it in spades when he put Muskerry’s Niall Gorey to the sword en route to an emphatic 5 and 4 victory in the final of the Radisson Blu-sponsored West of Ireland Amateur Open at Rosses Point.
As if on cue from the golfing gods, the Arctic-like conditions that marred the first four days gave way to more benign southeast breezes that allowed the large gallery to shed the gloves, if not the winter woolies.
But the real hot stuff came from 23-year old McNamara in a scrappy final that was all square until they came to the 159-yard ninth.
A winning par there was the first of four wins in a row for the Headfort man and while Gorey briefly stopped the rot with a half in par at the 13th, there was to be no repeat of his dramatic semi-final comeback against Mourne’s Reeve Whitson.
Four down against the recently-crowned Spanish Amateur Open champion with five to play, the Muskerry player birdied the 14th to provoke a dramatic collapse from the talented Ulsterman that ended with his defeat on the 19th.
“I just lost the plot a bit and lost my concentration,” Whitson said.
“Niall made a great birdie on the 14th to get back to three down and then I hit a bad tee shot on the 15th and from there I was just up against the momentum.”
McNamara, however, was not as forgiving. “I got out of jail against Reeve but Rory didn’t miss a shot from nine to 14,” Gorey said. “I hit a couple of loose ones and he made a couple of birdies and it was all over very quickly.”
Having won the ninth to go one up, McNamara hit a seven-iron to two feet at the 10th to set up a birdie and go two up before claiming the 11th in par after Gorey took four to reach the green.
The par-five 12th would be crucial and with Gorey 10 feet away in three, McNamara hit a stunning chip across the shoulder of the green that hit the pin and set up a winning birdie for a four-up lead.
Gorey responded to a fine McNamara tee-shot at the 13th with a superb approach to 10 feet but missed the putt
And it all ended at the next where McNamara displayed the assassin’s instinct that had brought him a 4 and 3 win over defending champion Harry Diamond in a semi-final dogfight he simply refused to lose.
Gorey could not afford a mistake but he carved his approach into the jungle right of the green. “When I saw Niall in trouble, I said, right, just close it out and I hit a nice five iron in there,” McNamara said.
His 25 footer slipped three feet past but after Gorey failed to get up and down, missing his 15 footer for par, the Headfort player calmly stroked home the winning putt to add the West to his win in last year's North of Ireland Championship.
After two winters studying at a golf academy in Spain, he spent this year at La Cala near in Marbella, simply working to get better. Son of a Sligo woman, his victory was hailed as heartily as a home win last achieved by Cecil Ewing in 1950.