Knocking on the door is frustrating if no one ever answers but golfing gods finally listened to Portmarnock's Geoff Lenehan yesterday when he holed a slick 25-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to claim the first tournament victory of his career in the prestigious Mullingar Electrical Scratch Trophy.
The 26-year-old Dubliner carded a pair of 70s on the final day to match holder Daniel Holland of Castle, who had surged from last to first with rounds of 68 and 69 to set the target at one-under-par 215.
It remained to be seen if any of the overnight leaders could match or beat their total, but after Dundalk's Aaron Grant had failed with a long-range eagle putt, only Irish Amateur Close champion John-Ross Galbraith of Whitehead was equal to the task, bravely holing a 10-footer for birdie on the final green for an immaculate 66.
The sudden-death play-off lasted just one hole. And it was Lenehan who struck the killer blow by sticking to his game plan from the previous three rounds. On each occasion he had chosen his driver to tackle the par four and take the bunkers and trees out of play. He had made birdie each time and a fourth soon followed.
While Holland and Galbraith chose fairway clubs and hit the short grass, Lenehan’s driver sailed 30 yards right but far enough to leave him a clear shot to the elevated green.
Holland hit to 15 feet and Galbraith to around 18 but while Lenehan’s lob wedge from 68 yards ran towards the back of the green, he knew the line of his 25-footer and watched in delight as it tracked straight into the middle for what proved to be a title-winning birdie.
Galbraith first and then Holland both shaved the hole but few could deny Lenehan a victory that has been coming for the past 18 months.
“This is my first tournament win and it’s very special to win in Mullingar because it’s one of the big ones,” said Lenehan.