Sunday 25 September 2016

Hole-in-one inspires Campbell

Brian Keogh

Published 29/03/2016 | 02:30

Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell. Photo: by Pat Cashman
Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell. Photo: by Pat Cashman

Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell found a novel way of avoiding a huge bar bill after he made a hole-in-one in the Radisson Blu-sponsored West of Ireland Amateur Open at Co Sligo en route to the last four.

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As Dermot McElroy remained on course to match Rory McIlroy and secure back to back wins following a bloody victory over Kevin LeBlanc, former East of Ireland winner Campbell aced the 178-yard fourth but had to birdie the last from 20 feet to beat Des Morgan by one hole in the third round.

He might have faced a massive tab after going on to win his quarter-final 3 and 2 but the fact that he ended the hopes of Co Sligo's Sean Flanagan put paid to any big celebrations.

"If I had been back at home it would have been dangerous," Campbell joked after a thrilling win over Morgan, who birdied the 17th from six feet and played the back nine in three-under, yet still lost.

Campbell then eased past a gutsy Flanagan, the leading qualifier, 3 and 2 in the afternoon and now faces Castle's Daniel Holland, a former Mullingar Scratch Cup winner, in the first of today's semi-finals.

Having also made a hole-in-one en route to his East of Ireland win two years ago, he's got high hopes of a second Major win, adding: "Hopefully it's a good omen.'

Defending champion McElroy (22) knows it takes blood, sweat and tears to win the championship and he saw all three as he battled his way into a last-four showdown with Naas' Jonathan Yates.

He had to birdie five holes in a row, from the 12th, to beat Kinsale's Cathal Butler 3 and 2 in the third round and it took a birdie-birdie finish to kill off talented 17-year-old LeBlanc from The Island by two holes in the afternoon.

The teenager hit a middle-aged Donegal man full on the head with his approach to the 11th and was so shocked that the injured man needed an ambulance to attend to his bleeding wound that he lost the 12th to fall behind and could never get back on terms.

McElroy's short game kept him in front and while he looked safe when he hit a 220-yard two iron to two feet at the 17th, LeBlanc sensationally holed a 50-footer for a half and birdie to take the match to the last.

When LeBlanc missed a 20-footer for birdie there, the reigning champion holed his from 10 feet for a two-hole win.

"He's a very, very good player, very talented," McElroy said of LeBlanc, tipping him for multiple amateur wins.

"He didn't really hit a bad shot. He is a super player with a lot of potential and a very good temperament. He will be winning these here with ease in the future."

McElroy faces 22-year old UCD student Yates in the semi-finals following the Naas man's 6 and 5 demolition of Whitehead's Matthew Kane.

"This is more of a surprise to other people than it is to me because I have had a few runs," said Yates, who only lost on the 19th to Paul Dunne in the 2013 Irish Close semi-finals.

"I have won four college events and the Midland Scratch Cup in the last year, so it has been coming."

As for Holland, the 26-year-old former interprovincial player came in with low expectations since returning to college life to do a masters, but after 2 and 1 wins over Aaron Grant and Gavin Fitzmaurice he said: "I can do it here. It's in me."

Irish Independent

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