Carlow hero Greene 'putts' McDonagh to sword on way to South title
If happiness is a long walk with a putter, then Carlow's John Greene was the happiest man in Munster as he dissected Athlone's Kelan McDonagh with the blade to claim the 109th South of Ireland Championship at sun-kissed Lahinch yesterday.
The burly scholarship student from UCD (24) became the first player from Carlow to win a domestic men's 'major' when he crushed Pat Murray's title dreams with a 5&4 semi-final victory before putting senior international McDonagh (20) to the sword by 2&1 in the decider thanks to a brilliant display on the greens.
"They call me 'Greener' but the putter is now the Green Machine," the winner beamed at the finish. "I holed everything I looked at.
"It's a massive win for me. Kelan beat me 4&3 in the second round last year and I felt he had all the luck on his side that time. Today, it all went my way."
McDonagh showed his class when he mounted a brave comeback to beat Castletroy's Cian Daly at the 20th in the other semi-final.
Three down after 11 holes in an exciting tussle, McDonagh got back to one down playing the last, where he calmly holed a tricky eight-footer for a birdie and then looked on as Daly lipped out from inside three feet.
McDonagh went on to win the match with a birdie four at the 20th, but he had no answer to Greene's putting brilliance in the final.
"He played well and holed more than his share of putts," said McDonagh, who is studying at NUI Maynooth under the Paddy Harrington Golf Scholarship scheme. "In fact, he holed my share as well. I just couldn't get the ball to drop."
All square through six holes, Greene holed a 15-footer for a half at the seventh and an eight-footer for a two at the eighth to make the turn with a one-up lead.
He then drained a 10-footer for another birdie at the 10th to double his lead and while McDonagh took the 11th in par, Greene made a safe five to go two up at the 12th and struck the killer blow at the 15th.
In trouble in the left rough off the tee, he found the green in three, holed a 25-footer for an amazing par and watched as McDonagh failed to match him from 15 feet.
Three down with three to go, McDonagh cut the gap with a winning par three at the 16th but he overshot the 17th and bogeyed.
Ironically, Greene three-putted there, having come up 10 feet short with his 70-foot birdie putt. He had luxury of two putts for the title and duly took them.
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