England’s James Newton claims Irish amateur title

Ireland international Conor Purcell emerges as his closest challenger, but could only get within five strokes of the leader

England’s James Newton  with the Flogas Irish Amateur Open  trophy after his victory at County Sligo Golf Club. Photograph:  Pat Cashman

England’s James Newton with the Flogas Irish Amateur Open trophy after his victory at County Sligo Golf Club. Photograph: Pat Cashman

 

England’s James Newton recovered from an early wobble and survived a late scare to seize the Flogas Irish Amateur Open title with five shots to spare at Co Sligo.

The 24-year-old from Macclesfield kept the field at bay throughout a difficult final round. Newton closed with 74 to finish at nine under par. He began with three bogeys, but quickly recovered and although he tripled the 16th coming home he had enough shots in hand to withstand the blow.

Ireland international Conor Purcell emerged as his closest challenger, but the Portmarnock star could only get within five strokes of the leader.

“I knew that I could win,” said Newton. “One of my goals was to win a 72-hole event. I’ve ticked that off quite early. I need to go back and re-evaluate my goals now.”

At the start of the week Newton’s name was not near the list of favourites. He travelled by ferry from Holyhead with precious few credentials. Over the past four seasons, Newton has hurtled down the world rankings, from top 50 to obscurity.

“I changed coach last October and moved to Peter Barber at Didsbury Golf Club,” said Newton. “The good has always been good enough, and he [Barber] has made the bad a lot better.”

Two rounds of 66 testified to the quality of his game. Five ahead at the halfway stage, Newton punched in 69 after round three to hold his lead. In the end he succeeded by a distance.

“It’s nice to have a win early on in the season,” said Newton. “And I know that I can do it again this year, so I just need to go and do it.”

Rocky start

After a rocky start, Newton recalibrated at the fourth. He coughed up three bogeys but a welcome birdie on number four changed his demeanour. Another followed at the fifth, where he got up and down for his four, and he continued on a steady course from there.

Newton powered his way to a rare birdie three at the eighth, which played as the hardest hole on the course during a demanding afternoon on the links. Hopes of a home success quickly dwindled amid the wind and rain at Rosses Point. First round leader Ronan Mullarney, lying second overnight, endured a dismal day. Mullarney carded a course record 62 in Thursday’s opening round but finished with 78, which left him nine shots off the pace in fifth place.

In the second last group Conor Purcell found a way to cope with the grind. He picked up two shots on the front nine to reach seven under, but he needed Newton to lend a helping hand.

“To shoot the score he did with the lead he had was pretty impressive,” said Purcell. “I was always playing for second really. He [Newton] was comfortable after nine.”

Runner-up

Purcell signed off with 72 to finish as runner-up on four under. The Dubliner began the year with victory at the Australian Amateur Championship, and has finished second in the first two domestic events of the season. Such form, no doubt, will have pleased the watching Walker Cup selectors.

“All you can do is put yourself in the mix,” said Purcell when asked about his Walker Cup prospects. “I’ve had what I consider a good start to the year. I just need to push on from here.”

FLOGAS IRISH AMATEUR OPEN

at County Sligo Golf Club

275 J Newton (England), 66, 66, 69, 74

280 C Purcell (Portmarnock), 70, 69, 69, 72

281 C Strickland (England), 67, 69, 72, 73; A Edwards-Hill (England), 67, 69, 71, 74

284 R Mullarney (Galway), 62, 72, 72, 78

285 K Kouwenaar (Netherlands), 67, 69, 74, 75

286 J Wilson (Scotland), 73, 67, 73, 73; J McMahon (England), 72, 65, 76, 73; O Huggins (England), 71, 70, 74, 71; M Hammer (Germany), 71, 64, 74, 77; H Foley (Royal Dublin), 70, 73, 73, 70; B Dietzel (Germany), 70, 70, 79, 67; R Moran (Castle), 68, 68, 75, 75; E Walker (Scotland), 66, 72, 74, 74

287 D Langley (England), 74, 68, 71, 74; A Herrmann (Germany), 70, 71, 75, 71

288 M Power (Kilkenny), 73, 75, 68, 72; L Sanges (Wales), 72, 68, 75, 73; A McCormack (Castletroy), 71, 71, 72, 74; J Bolton (England), 67, 70, 77, 74

289 A Marshall (Lisburn), 74, 71, 74, 70; M Hirmer (Germany), 73, 67, 73, 76; H Byers (England), 71, 70, 76, 72; M Boucher (Carton House), 71, 70, 73, 75; J Johnston (Scotland), 69, 72, 72, 76; G Cullen (The Links Portmarnock), 69, 70, 74, 76

290 J Biggs (England), 77, 69, 73, 71; P McKeever (Castle), 73, 69, 77, 71; J Cass (England), 71, 73, 73, 73; P Coughlan (Castleknock), 71, 72, 74, 73; R Brazill (Naas), 71, 69, 75, 75; K Egan (Carton House), 70, 66, 73, 81; B Firth (England), 69, 71, 75, 75; J Burnage (England), 69, 70, 77, 74; K Cantley (Scotland), 68, 72, 74, 76; J Hull (England), 67, 73, 78, 72

291 J Walsh (Castle), 74, 71, 74, 72; M Naysmith (Scotland), 71, 72, 76, 72; E Murphy (Dundalk), 71, 68, 72, 80; M Lamb (England), 70, 74, 72, 75; J Sugrue (Mallow), 70, 73, 75, 73; R Cannon (Balbriggan), 70, 71, 76, 74; L O’Neill (Connemara), 67, 78, 73, 73

292 M Scowsill (England), 73, 72, 72, 75; T Vahlenkamp (Germany), 73, 69, 76, 74; M Roberts (Wales), 71, 68, 72, 81

293 R Foley (Switzerland), 74, 68, 76, 75; E Mcintosh (Scotland), 73, 71, 75, 74; M Kennedy (Royal Dublin), 70, 71, 77, 75; L Moolman (South Africa), 69, 71, 77, 76; J Wright (Scotland), 69, 69, 75, 80

294 H Goddard (England), 72, 75, 72, 75

295 C Knipes (England), 74, 70, 72, 79

297 M Deasy (Lee Valley), 72, 74, 73, 78; B Chamberlain (Wales), 69, 70, 77, 81

299 T McLarnon (Massereene), 67, 75, 77, 80

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