Monday 22 January 2018

Hume shows nerves of steel to secure his maiden 'major'

Jack Hume. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Jack Hume. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Brian Keogh at Rosses Point

Jack Hume combined the mental strength of a Major winner with the stamina of an athlete and the guts of a champion to claim a dramatic one-hole victory in the Radisson Blu-sponsored West of Ireland Championship.

The small but powerful 20-year-old from Naas beat his strength and conditioning coach Robbie Cannon of Balbriggan when he bravely holed a 10-foot par putt on the 18th green to claim his first amateur 'major'.

The final might have been low on birdies on an overcast and generally windless afternoon – the winner was two-over-par as the breeze finally got up towards the finish – but it was high on drama and excitement. And it gave Irish golf every reason to expect more days of glory from its latest champion.

At the age of 35, Cannon has achieved a lot, having followed up the 2009 South of Ireland championship with a surprise victory in a play-off for the Irish Amateur Open last year. It was the man who double-bogeyed the last at Royal Dublin to miss out on that play-off who put him to the sword over the last four, nerve-jangling holes.

Having played superbly all week – his performance was summed up when he hit a 102-yard wedge to six inches at the 18th to beat leading qualifier Reeve Whitson by one hole in the morning semi-finals – Cannon's swing unravelled in the afternoon.

Despite some untidy play he found himself two up after four and still two-up when he holed a gutsy nine-footer for a half in par at the short ninth. Hume had started nervously and even three-putted the seventh when he had a chance to take advantage of one of Cannon's loose tee shots.

But the Naas ace, winner of all four Boys provincial titles as a Rathsallagh player in 2010, reminded himself of last year when he lost in a play-off for the Lytham Trophy before losing out so cruelly at Royal Dublin just days later.

"I was down early and got off to a bad start so I said to myself, 'Be patient, you're playing well, just stick it out,'" Hume explained.

"It would have been easy to let the head drop but to be able to stick it out and get over the line and get a win like this means a lot. I was close in the Irish Amateur and the Lytham Trophy last year and I learned from those experiences.

"I don't think I would have recovered from a bad start like that last year but I am a year older, a year smarter and a year more experienced and hopefully I can pick up another couple of trophies."

Hume was five-under-par in beating West Waterford's Gary Hurley 3&2 in the semi-finals and while he three-putted the second and double-bogeyed the fourth after a poor chip to find himself two down, he never lost faith.

Having cut the gap to one hole with a birdie from 10 feet at the 10th, he then squared the match when Cannon was bunkered long left at the par-three 13th. Even when he three-putted the 14th from just 15 feet to leave himself one down with four to play, his swing did not abandon him in his hour of need.

GREMLINS

The gremlins finally caught up with Cannon on the 196-yard 16th, where he pushed a five-iron and Hume pounced by rifling a four-iron to 20 feet to set up a winning par that squared the match.

At the 17th, Cannon pulled his drive into trouble and made six, leaving Hume one up in the match for the first time. Both got their drives away safely at the 18th but the youngster opened the door by missing the green right and knocking his putt from the swale 10 feet past.

Cannon's 20-footer to force extra holes did not drop, however, and Hume made no mistake with a 10-footer for the title.

"I am truly delighted for him," Cannon said, clearly disappointed not to pick up his third 'major'.

"If I had to lose, I am glad I lost to Jack. I have no excuses. He played very well and didn't hit any bad shots. The best man won. Clearly."

Irish Independent

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