Shay’s Short Game: Ian Lynch is king in the North

Rosslare golfer secures biggest win of his career the North of Ireland Championship

Rosslare’s Ian Lynch celebrates after winning the North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush.

Rosslare’s Ian Lynch celebrates after winning the North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush.


Lynch is champion of the North

Rosslare’s Ian Lynch captured the North of Ireland Championship to complete the biggest win of his career at Royal Portrush. Lynch overcame England’s Kieran Babbage from Bristol 2 and 1 in a closely contested final on the Dunluce Links. The 29-year-old software engineer was appearing in his first championship final and duly walked away with his maiden crown.

In the first round, Lynch beat Jacob Oakley at the 20th and he survived another epic encounter with Waterford’s Eanna Griffin in the quarter-finals, eventually winning at the 19th. He then edged out leading qualifier Matthew McClean 2&1 in the semi-finals.

His final opponent Babbage, from The Players Club in England, had one-hole wins in three of his five matches en route to the decider and he had to go to the 19th to get past Adam Mulhall from Ardglass in the semi-finals. Babbage was bidding to become the first overseas winner of the North since 1994 when England’s Nick Ludwell triumphed.

Babbage battled back to all square three times on the front nine, where Lynch holed two crucial putts - from 25 feet for a win at the third and 12 feet for a half in par at the fourth - he lost the 10th and 11th to pars to go two down, then got into bunker trouble at the 14th to find himself three down with four to play.

A bogey by Lynch at the terrifying, 236-yard par-three 16th - calamity - left Babbage two down with two to play. And while he got up and down from a greenside bunker to save par at the downhill 17th, Lynch coolly lagged his 30 footer stone dead for a winning par and victory.

Lynch’s victory comes with the added bonus of 250 points on the Bridgestone Order of Merit, moving him into seventh place on the table.

Leinster girls make it three-in-a-row

The Leinster Girls claimed their third Interprovincial title in-a-row at Castle Dargan as they remained unbeaten all week, winning 18.5 matches from a possible 24. It was Emma Fleming who ensured her team could not be beaten by closing her match against Rebekah Gardner 4 and 3. The 13-year-old from Elm Park is definitely one to watch and already has experience under her belt including a victory over Senior International Lauren Walsh in last week’s Leinster Girls’ Championship.

The women’s matches were a much tighter affair and although Leinster had clinched two of the morning foursomes, the teams were tied with 10 holes to go. Wins for Lucy Simpson and Louise Coffey swung the tie in Ulster’s favour and when Jessica Ross and Chloe Weir duly followed, another win for Ulster at Castle Dargan was confirmed.

“We had nice memories coming back here again for Interpros after 5 years,” said Jessica Ross, who was on the winning team in 2013. “Back then we had Paula [GRANT], Lisa and Leona [MAGUIRE]on the team, but we were definitely strong again this year and it’s nice to get the trophy back after 2 years!”

Connacht and Munster halved the other tie and finished on equal points to share third place behind Leinster.

Dillon on the winning track

Joe Dillon carded a five under par 67 to win the Waterford Castle Pro-Am title and claim his second victory in his last four starts. The Headfort professional held off Damian Mooney and Michael McGeady by one stroke at the course designed by Des Smyth and Declan Branigan.

With a shotgun start in operation, Dillon began his round at the par-five 13th and collected seven birdies in total, his two dropped shots coming at the 12th and 14th.

Castlewarden’s Mark Whelan and amateur partners Ray Hurley, Mary Mulcahy and Paul Power won the team prize with 96 points.

Kilpatrick best in PGA Challenge

Richard Kilpatrick hung on to win the PGA Challenge at Tulfarris Hotel and Golf Resort on Tuesday.

Joint overnight leader alongside Limerick’s Tim Rice, the Banbridge Golf Club professional, carded a second round one over par 73 to win the Johnston, Mooney and O’Brien sponsored event by three shots.

Kilpatrick opened his bid for the title with a five-under-par 67 helped by a strong driving performance that set up two eagle chances which he gratefully accepted.

David Higgins (Waterville Links) grabbed second with Mark Staunton (Delgany), Adam Dunmore (Bundoran) and Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort) finishing in joint third on level par.

Rice struggled on day two signing for a six over par 78 that saw him slip down the leaderboard and into a tie for sixth.

Munster title for Conroy

Paul Conroy from Enniscorthy led all the way to win the Munster Boys Amateur Open sponsored by Gleesons of Limerick at Waterford Castle. Conroy had a two shot lead going into the final round, and after three birdies on the front nine he had extended his lead over Max Kennedy to three shots. A boyey on the 12th was followed by a birdie, but a triple bogey on the par three 16th could have derailed the Enniscorthy man.

He recovered with a birdie on the 17th and at that stage he was three clear of the field. Conroy signed for rounds of 67, 71 and another one under par 71, finishing the tournament on seven-under-par 209. Max Kennedy (Royal Dublin) finished in second place on four under after rounds of 71, 69 and 72 while Ronan Cowhey (Elm Park) was third on one under shooting 71, 74 and 70 for 215. Kennedy also claimed the Under 17 trophy.

King continues good form

Faithlegg’s Alex King wins the 2018 Leinster Boys Under-14 Championship at Kilkenny Golf Club with a score of two over par 73. King continues his recent good form after coming runner up in the Ulster Boys U-14 Championship at Ardglass. He carded three birdies and impressively eagled the 13th to claim the title. Two shots back came runner-up Sean McLoughlin from Co Sligo on four over and Balmoral’s Fionn Dobbin won the Under 13 Category with a score of 77.

Freeman best on countback

Naas Golf Club’s Eoin Freeman won the Titleist Footjoy Ireland sponsored Leinster Boys Under-16 Amateur Close Championship at Ashbourne GC on a countback from Lucas Kane (Mullingar) and Michael Fitzgibbon (Portmarnock). It was Freeman who was the best of the day carding an excellent round of 71 which included four birdies to become the 2018 Leinster Boys U-16 Close champion on one over par.

Irish pair in Junior Open

Holywood teenager Tom McKibbin and Nicole Joyce Moreno will be Ireland’s representatives at this week’s Junior Open. Founded in 1994, the Junior Open is staged every two years. The event is closely linked to The Open and played on a nearby course.

This year’s Junior Open takes place on the Eden Course at St Andrews and all nations affiliated to The R&A are invited to enter their leading boy and girl golfers under the age of 16 for this biennial event which is played over three rounds of strokeplay.

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