Tuesday 12 December 2017

Dream double for Selfridge

Brian Keogh in Baltray

Moyola Park's Chris Selfridge became the first player since Garth McGimpsey 24 years ago to complete the Irish Close-East of Ireland double when he beat Knock's Nicky Grant after a dramatic three-hole aggregate play-off at County Louth.

Just eight days after lifting the Close title at Royal Portrush, the 20-year-old University of Toledo star got up and down from 122 yards for what proved to be a winning par-four at the third extra hole, the ninth, as 25-year-old Grant three-putted from long range after they had shared the first and second in regulation pars.

"It feels fantastic to win championships back-to-back," said a delighted Selfridge, who was eight strokes behind overnight leader James Fox of Portmarnock entering yesterday's final 36 holes. "I never thought I would get one win, never mind two."

Fox led by four shots overnight from Co Sligo's Gary McDermott but slipped to a morning 76 to find himself tied for the lead with Andrew Hogan on one-under with a round to go.

The Newlands man had taken advantage of sunny conditions and a moderate south-east wind to fire a four-under 68.

Selfridge was just a stroke behind them alongside defending champion Richard O'Donovan on level par as he shot a 69 to the Lucan man's 68.

And he kept his momentum going in the afternoon, sweeping to a 70 to set the clubhouse target at two-under-par 286.

He wondered if his four-foot birdie miss at the 18th might cost him dear but spent the next two and a half hours chatting with coach Johnny Foster and texting friends as Fox, Hogan, Grant and Co battled the links.

Hogan looked certain to match Selfridge or set a new target when he came to the last at two-under, only to lose his ball right off the tee and take seven for a 73 that left him on level par.

Grant eventually matched Selfridge on two-under with a birdie at the last for a 69, but neither Fox (72) nor Colm Campbell of Warrenpoint (68) could birdie the 18th to join them.

In the three-hole aggregate play-off, both men did well to par the first before Grant made a great up-and-down for his par-five at the second to leave them level playing the ninth and facing the possibility of sudden-death.

Grant was fortunate to clear the bunkers on the left with a rescue and looked odds-on to win when Selfridge bunkered his four-iron tee shot in the first trap on the left.

However, it was the Derryman who prevailed when he laid up, hit a 52-degree wedge from 122 yards to three feet and looked on as Grant hit his second to 45 feet, came up eight feet short and missed for par.

Irish Independent

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