Saturday 18 November 2017

Doubts go out window with first major win

FOR Portmarnock golfer Geoff Lenehan his win at the Mullingar Scratch Cup was more than just a first major win as an amateur - it was proof that after knocking on the door for so long he has the ability to win titles.

Lenehan came into the tournament more in hope than expectation as his form leading up to the event was far from his best, and with the season winding to a close this may have been his last chance to bag some silverware.

'To be honest, I think I have been close to it the last two of three years on the amateur scene. I have been to a lot of semi-finals and just one shot off a couple of times in the East of Ireland and Irish Amateur Open.

'But I haven't played that well in the last month, so maybe at the same time it was a bit of a shock,' he began, talking about his win.

The manner in which he secured victory was something special. Having come from behind to take the lead in the final round, Lenehan dropped shots to eventually find himself involved in a three-way sudden-death play-off.

Played on the par-four 1st, Lenehan had already made three successive birdies on the hole and he continued his form with a booming drive off the tee, before chipped into the green to leave himself with a 25-foot putt for a birdie and the win - and he duly obliged.

'It really doesn't get any sweeter than that to be honest, because I thought my chance had gone.

'I had chances in normal play, I lipped out on the 17th and bunkered my tee shot on the last and then I couldn't go for it on two, so I was pretty disappointed coming off the course because I was hunting for the win and I knew if only I could have gone one shot better I would have won.'

The constant finishing in runner-up position prompted Lenehan to travel to Westmeath for the tournament.

'I had a bit of a clash with the European Amateur. I was a bit frustrated after the season, so I decided to skip a practice round of the European Am and try and play as it's another chance to win and I wanted to win something.'

Lenehan talked about the involvement of luck in securing the title, but as the old adage goes 'you make your own luck' and he certainly was in a creative form.

'You have to take your chances when they present themselves and put yourself in a position to be lucky,' he said.

Throughout the competition he played an aggressive and inventive style of golf, always trying to take the opportunities presented and playing very attacking golf.

He was four shots off the lead at the half-way point, but never once felt he was out of the competition.

Describing the final day, he went on: 'It was a tricky enough day with a very cold morning. I got off to a good start and I was under par early and I managed to take it from there, and when I came in I was one or two off the lead, and then in the last round I was two-under through four knowing I had to make a move.

'Then I had two sloppy bogies and that really annoyed me, and that's when those doubts may have crept in because I was playing attacking aggressive golf before that.'

The confidence taken from such a victory, snatched from the jaws of perceived defeat, has Lenehan instilled with a new sense of belief in his ability. It's a first win, but it's also the win he deserved, having gone so close in previous attempts.

'I think going forward it's definitely given me the confidence to know that I can win now.

'That question mark has been in my head, and now after being in contention how ever many times in the past, I feel that now I can do it and if in the future I get into contention again I have the knowledge that I can win and that's huge.'

With the curtains soon to come down on the season, Lenehan's focus returns to club matters as Portmarnock prepare for the Leinster Senior Cup Finals in two weeks.

'The season is winding down, but for Portmarnock we have the Leinster Senior Cup in Mount Juliet and we are really preparing for that. As a team we need this win and we are totally focused on it.'

Fingal Independent

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