Rain shortens play at East of Ireland Amateur Open

For the first time in 75 years, the event in Baltray, Co Louth, was reduced to 54 holes

Raining champion: winner Stuart Grehan from Tullamore with his caddy Dan Reynolds. Photograph: Pat Cashman

Raining champion: winner Stuart Grehan from Tullamore with his caddy Dan Reynolds. Photograph: Pat Cashman

 

Even veterans like two-time winner Declan Branigan agreed that the right decision had been made after torrential rain and southerly winds, forecast to gust over 100kph, reduced the CityNorth Hotel-sponsored East of Ireland Amateur Open to 54 holes for the first time in its 75-year history.

And so Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan, who led after every round, was declared the winner on four under par 212, five strokes better than Knock’s Colin Fairweather and six ahead of Castle’s Alex Gleeson.

“To win feels great,” said Grehan, who was tied fifth behind Gavin Moynihan in the recent Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin and now hopes to win a full Irish cap in August’s Home Internationals in Portrush.

“I felt good coming in this week but I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night and I was nervous this morning and over the first tee shot. But once I got that away, I was fine.”

More firepower

Joe Carr

Branigan could remember a particularly tough year in 1975 when Adrian Morrow won with a total of 300 and the Laytown and Bettystown man needed to “hammer” a one-iron just to hit the par-three 15th.

Had the final three-ball been allowed to go that far in round four, they may have required considerably more firepower to get home in near-hurricane conditions.

Explaining the decision to cancel round four and reduce the tournament to 54 holes, Leinster Golf’s Joe McNamara, the championship director, said: “The weather was only going to get increasingly worse so we made a decision to cancel the round rather than prolong the agony.

“Up to 6ml of rain was forecast from two o’clock to six o’clock and it was impossible to play the game to a proficient standard.”

The wind was already blowing steadily at 50kph and gusting well over 60kph in the morning before the rain came in sheets and wind speeds rose.

Six ahead overnight after rounds of 67 and 69, and five shots clear of Knock’s Colin Fairweather (73), starting the final round having posted a 76 in miserable conditions in the morning, Grehan opened round four with two pars but admitted he was relieved to see an official approach as he prepared to putt for bogey from 20 feet on the third.

Produced the goods

John Ross Galbraith

“I would have preferred if they had played on because I was chasing Stuart, but it was absolutely the right decision,” Gleeson said afterwards.

Grehan, 22, was thrilled to get his first senior championship victory having won the Irish Youths title after a playoff in Loughrea in 2012.

He left Eastern Michigan University in 2013 suffering from homesickness and unhappy, ironically, with the bad winter weather near Detroit.

But having secured a Paddy Harrington Scholarship at Maynooth University, where he studies Entrepreneurship, the improved mental game and putting techniques he has picked up were the keys to his win, especially in yesterday’s tough weather.

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