Grant survives Close call to deny Maguire at Ballybunion
Paula Grant recorded the most significant success of her fledgling career when she won the Irish Ladies Close championship in fierce winds at Ballybunion.
The 19-year-old Inter-varsity champion from Lisburn came from behind to edge to an extra-hole victory in the final over 18-year-old Lisa Maguire from Slieve Russell.
"I feel absolutely elated. This is my biggest win yet," said Grant, a University of Ulster student who finished runner-up last month in the Irish stroke play championship and subsequently qualified for the match-play stages of the British Championship in Wales.
After an opening half of fluctuating fortunes, Maguire turned for home one up, but then missed a putt at the 10th to be brought back to all-square.
Then Maguire, who on Saturday beat her twin sister Leona in the second round, won two holes on the bounce to open up a useful-looking advantage.
But Grant won both 13 and 15 to level matters, only to fall behind again at the 17th when she failed to get up and down from a bunker. When Maguire finished in rough with her second shot at the last, the Lisburn teen pounced to draw level and force sudden-death.
Having driven into rough at the 19th, Grant (above) was 50 yards short of the green with her second shot, while Maguire landed in a bunker. Both hit to within 20 feet of the pin, but Grant holed out and Maguire missed.
"I have no long-term plans at the moment – I am just taking every month and every tournament as they come," said a jubilant Grant.
Maguire had beaten Irish Girls stroke play champion Olivia Mehaffey 5&4 in the semi-finals and Grant overcame Jessica Carty 3&1.