Sport Golf

Sunday 21 January 2018

'Delighted' Grehan lands prized Lahinch green blazer

Stuart Grehan with Lahinch captain Dan O'Donovan (left) and GUI president Michael Connaughton
Stuart Grehan with Lahinch captain Dan O'Donovan (left) and GUI president Michael Connaughton

Brian Keogh

Happiness is a long walk with a putter and it was Tullamore's Stuart Grehan who was grinning at Lahinch as he capitalised on his ball-striking to win the South of Ireland Amateur Open in style.

The 22-year-old student of Entrepreneurship at Maynooth University had already become the first Paddy Harrington Scholarship winner to capture a championship with his win in the weather-reduced East of Ireland at Co Louth in June.

This time it was Lahinch’s July showers that kept him on his toes, but he proved more than equal to the task as he despatched the powerful hitting Colin Fairweather of Knock by 4&3 courtesy of a purely-struck eight-foot par putt.

“I am absolutely thrilled,” Grehan said as officials readied a green Lahinch blazer that certified an East-South double last achieved by Jim Carvill a decade ago.

Dream list

“That was my goal at the start of the year, to win two championships. It was something mad I had down on my dream list, I’m absolutely delighted.”

Winning a full international cap was another goal and Grehan can surely look forward to teeing it up in Ireland’s defence of the Home Internationals at Royal Portrush next month.

“My short game was fantastic and my mental game was good as well,” added the athletic Offaly man, who showed Limerick’s Mark MacGrath no mercy with a 2&1 semi-final win that ended all hope of seeing a Lahinch member win for the first time since 1968.

“Moving to a new coach in Eamonn O’Flanagan at the Heritage academy has been huge.

“He’s been great for me on the mental game and strategy, and Donal Scott has helped me with my putting.”

Fairweather had to see off the combative Keith Egan of Carton House, who birdied the last from 18 feet to force extra holes with a brave half, but bunkered his gap wedge to the first and failed to save par.

But the 24-year-old son of PGA professional Gordon Fairweather was always on the back foot in the final and while he hit back from a bogey at the first with a winning birdie at the second, he never got his nose in front at any stage.

“If you’re not rolling the ball well and struggling with the pace of the greens, you’re kind of getting your own way a bit,” the Ulsterman said.

“Any time I won a hole, he kept hitting back. He was always putting for par and putting pressure on me and in match play that’s what you have to do. He’s a good player.”

Fairweather missed a short putt for a half at the sixth and went two down, birdied the eighth from 10 feet but then lost the ninth to turn two down as Grehan holed a double-breaking 25-footer.

The midlander handed Fairweather the 10th with a double-bogey but was gifted the 11th when Fairweather carved his tee shot into the rough and lost the ball.

Two down again, he hit back by holing 30-yard bunker shot for a winning eagle three at the 12th. But Grehan restored his two-hole cushion by hitting his 71-yard approach to three feet at the 13th.

“After his eagle I was thinking he wasn’t going to go away,” Grehan said. “But that birdie on 13 was absolutely crucial. I hit a 2 iron to 71 yards and a gap wedge to three feet and rolled it in.”

He then closed out the match with wins at the 14th, where Fairweather had three putts from just off the green, and the 15th.

The latter was shot worthy of any championship win – a 229-yard four iron that skipped under the 20mph wind and squally rain  to find the front edge from where he putted up to around eight feet.

Fairweather missed a 15-footer for par and Grehan, who has no plans to turn professional just yet, showed the touch of a champion and rolled home the winning putt.

Mehaffey misses out

Oliver Mehaffey left her best until last in the European Ladies Championship at Murhof in Austria – but still finished outside the medals.

The 17-year-old international from Royal County Down posted a four-under-par final round of 68 for a 72-hole aggregate of 286, which gave her a share of 24th place.

But that was 13 strokes behind new champion, Luque Parra, from Sotogrande, who triumphed by two strokes from Bangalore’s Aditi Ashok.

Mehaffey had halves of 33 and 35, birdieing three holes on the bounce from the seventh. Her closing 68 followed rounds of 70, 77 and 71.

In the European Young Masters in Switzerland, both Thomas Mulligan and Mark Power finished with totals of 231 to share 32nd place, while in the girls’ event, Annabel Wilson ended on 230 in joint 21st spot and Mairead Martin was 36th with a 237 aggregate.

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