Dermot McElroy responds in style to win West of Ireland Amateur Open title

Ballymena player defeated Waterford’s Eanna Griffin on the 15th hole in the final to lift the trophy

Dermot McElroy is new West of Ireland golf champion after a dramatic final day of golf at County Sligo Golf Club in Rosses Point yesterday.

McElroy overcame Waterford youngster Eanna Griffin on the 15th hole in the final to lift the trophy for the first time, having won five of the last six holes to triumph.

Trailing by two after the par-three fourth, McElroy responded by birdieing the fifth, but he was still behind at the turn. Wins on 10, 11 and 12 saw him edge in front for the first time, and superb birdies on 14 and 15 ended the hopes of the Munster man.

McElroy said: “It’s a fantastic achievement. This is my seventh year here and the furthest I have got before is the third round. So to finally win it, there is no words to describe how I feel at the minute. I had never met Eanna before so I didn’t know what to expect off him. He started really strong against me. He is a very strong player and hits it quite far. So I had to dig deep.

Good chance

“He had a good chance to go two-up on me on the ninth and he missed it, and then he bogeyed the 10th and I pared it. He bogeyed the next as well and I went one-up, and then I was able to birdie the par five and go two-up. So I was in the flow by that stage.

“We halved the par-three 13th, but after that I just turned it on with the wedges and two perfect yardages. 147 yards downwind on 14 and I hit it to 15 feet and holed the putt for birdie to go three-up. And then 143 yards on the 15th and I hit it to six feet, and was able to finish it out for the win.”

McElroy was a popular winner, though he had a large crowd against him in his semi-final yesterday morning, as he took on local youngster Seán Flanagan. McElroy had been three-up against the 18-year-old after seven holes, but the momentum looked to have swung as Flanagan won the next three to tie the match after ten.

But McElroy composed himself and went ahead twice more before finally getting over the line on the 18th.

With four former West winners – McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry and Mikko Ilonen – lining up in the Masters this week, McElroy will now face questions about turning pro but he admits that is not on his radar just yet.

“The Lytham Trophy (at Royal Lytham and St Anne’s Golf Club) starts the first of May, so I’ll go there next. “I am just looking forward to a good season, and this was a great start.”