Dream double for Selfridge
Moyola Park's Chris Selfridge became the first player since Garth McGimpsey 24 years ago to complete the Irish Close-East of Ireland double when he beat Knock's Nicky Grant after a dramatic three-hole aggregate play-off at County Louth.
Just eight days after lifting the Close title at Royal Portrush, the 20-year-old University of Toledo star got up and down from 122 yards for what proved to be a winning par-four at the third extra hole, the ninth, as 25-year-old Grant three-putted from long range after they had shared the first and second in regulation pars.
"It feels fantastic to win championships back-to-back," said a delighted Selfridge, who was eight strokes behind overnight leader James Fox of Portmarnock entering yesterday's final 36 holes. "I never thought I would get one win, never mind two."
Fox led by four shots overnight from Co Sligo's Gary McDermott but slipped to a morning 76 to find himself tied for the lead with Andrew Hogan on one-under with a round to go.
The Newlands man had taken advantage of sunny conditions and a moderate south-east wind to fire a four-under 68.
Selfridge was just a stroke behind them alongside defending champion Richard O'Donovan on level par as he shot a 69 to the Lucan man's 68.
And he kept his momentum going in the afternoon, sweeping to a 70 to set the clubhouse target at two-under-par 286.
He wondered if his four-foot birdie miss at the 18th might cost him dear but spent the next two and a half hours chatting with coach Johnny Foster and texting friends as Fox, Hogan, Grant and Co battled the links.
Hogan looked certain to match Selfridge or set a new target when he came to the last at two-under, only to lose his ball right off the tee and take seven for a 73 that left him on level par.
Grant eventually matched Selfridge on two-under with a birdie at the last for a 69, but neither Fox (72) nor Colm Campbell of Warrenpoint (68) could birdie the 18th to join them.
In the three-hole aggregate play-off, both men did well to par the first before Grant made a great up-and-down for his par-five at the second to leave them level playing the ninth and facing the possibility of sudden-death.
Grant was fortunate to clear the bunkers on the left with a rescue and looked odds-on to win when Selfridge bunkered his four-iron tee shot in the first trap on the left.
However, it was the Derryman who prevailed when he laid up, hit a 52-degree wedge from 122 yards to three feet and looked on as Grant hit his second to 45 feet, came up eight feet short and missed for par.