Cannon fires on all cylinders to seal play-off glory
Balbriggan's Robbie Cannon proved that golf is sometimes a case of the survival of the fittest when he came through two gruelling rounds and four play-off holes to win at Royal Dublin.
"If I had been beaten in a play-off, I would have had no comeback," said Cannon, who is a much-sought-after fitness coach. "All the training I have done over the past five years and this winter has really paid off."
The 34-year-old closed with two 75s to finish tied with defending champion Gavin Moynihan of the Island and Scotland's Graeme Robertson on a seven-over-par 295, setting up a three-hole aggregate play-off.
Rathsallagh's Jack Hume provided the tragic note of the day when he stood on the 18th tee needing a four to win and a five to join the play-off. But the 19-year old, who led by a shot from Cannon and England's Matt Kippen on three over par through 54 holes after a morning 74, bunkered his tee shot, missed the green in three and fluffed his fourth, running up a double bogey six that left him tied for fourth with Dermot McElroy, Richard O'Donovan, Geoff Lenehan, Finn Teemu Bakker and Scotland's Ewan Scott, who had eagled the last from 182 yards.
The play-off over the 16th, 17th and 18th couldn't produce a winner. Robertson three-putted 16 for bogey before Moynihan double-bogeyed 17, driving into the drain. Cannon also bogeyed the 17th to go to the last tied with Robertson on one-over.
The Balbriggan man, winner of the South of Ireland for his only success in 2009, drove into the left rough, but hit a 205-yard five iron to 40 feet to set up a closing par.
"That was the shot of my life, the shot of my dreams," he said. Cannon and Robertson two-putted for pars to finish on one-over as 18-year old Moynihan failed to make birdie and was eliminated after a brilliant, but ultimately fruitless, final-day display.
It meant a trip back to the 18th for sudden death and Cannon would not be denied.
After finding the heart of the green again, he looked on as Robertson pushed his approach into the right-hand trap and failed to get up and down, missing from 12 feet for par after the Dubliner had lagged up stone dead. "It was a mental challenge today, but I just visualised myself winning last night and spoke to my friend, the pro John Kelly about it," a delighted Cannon said.
"It was all about attitude and visualisation of winning. Even on the back nine when I bogeyed the 11th and 12th, I said to my caddie Dave Noone that my goal was to make a couple of birdies coming in, which I did at 15 and 16.
"I was unfortunate to get a bad lie on 17 and make bogey. But I got another shot at it and I was lucky enough to take it."