Saturday 24 February 2018

Fletcher claims 'Close' by fending off Kitt fightback

Jamie Fletcher has won the AIG Irish Amateur Close by one hole at Galway Golf Club. Photo: David Maher / Sportsfile (stock)
Jamie Fletcher has won the AIG Irish Amateur Close by one hole at Galway Golf Club. Photo: David Maher / Sportsfile (stock)

Brian Keogh

Warrenpoint's Jamie Fletcher kept a cool head to hold off a late rally from Athenry teenager David Kitt and win the AIG Irish Amateur Close by one hole at Galway Golf Club.

The 21-year-old part-time swimming instructor beat Castleknock's Paul Coughlan 2 & 1 in the morning semi-finals as 17-year-old schoolboy Kitt defeated Belvoir Park's Marc Nolan by the same margin.

But he didn't have it all his way in the final against the diminutive Kitt, who came back from three down with four to play to take the match to the 18th.

The bespectacled teenager three-putted the fifth to go one down and then bogeyed the sixth after overshooting the green to fall two holes behind.

But after making a 10-footer to force Fletcher to hole from six feet for a half in birdies at the eighth, Kitt made a slick 15-footer for birdie at the 10th to reduce the deficit to just one hole.

The young Galway talent was giving up more than 60 yards to Fletcher off the tee, and he made life difficult for himself by three-putting the 12th and 14th to go three down with four to play.

But Fletcher bogeyed the 15th after driving behind a tree and then made a double-bogey six at the 16th after taking two to escape from a greenside bunker.

Just one up with two to play, Fletcher closed with two solid pars to take the title and hopes to push on now and stake his claim to a place in the Irish senior squad.

"It gives me a lot of motivation to know that I can win," said Fletcher, who is the third Warrenpoint golfer to win the 'Close' after 1980 champion Ronan Rafferty and 1991 winner Gary McNeill.

"I was one of the underdogs coming in here with all the internationals playing, but I knew that I had the game to beat them and now that I have won, I know I can win again."

Irish Independent

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