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Joshua Hill produces late late show to snatch Mullingar Scratch Cup glory

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Joshua Hill (Galgorm Castle) winner of the Mullingar Scratch Cup 2022 at Mullingar Golf Club, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath

Joshua Hill (Galgorm Castle) winner of the Mullingar Scratch Cup 2022 at Mullingar Golf Club, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath

Joshua Hill (Galgorm Castle) winner of the Mullingar Scratch Cup 2022 at Mullingar Golf Club, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath

Galgorm Castle's Joshua Hill produced a birdie-birdie finish worthy of the major champions who went before him to snatch victory from the jaws of disaster in the 60th Mullingar Scratch Trophy.

The Ballymena star (18) carded a third round 66 in fine weather to race five strokes clear of Connemara's Luke O'Neill on 14-under par before heavy afternoon rain almost wrecked his dream.

Despite turning in three-over 38, he was still three ahead of O'Neill with nine holes to go before he bogeyed the 11th and then ran up back to back double-bogeys, losing a ball up a tree at the par-three 12th before driving out of bounds at the 13th.

Suddenly one behind O'Neill, who would finish two behind in fourth after a 75, Hill produced a finish worthy of past champions Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy, Pádraig Harrington and Shane Lowry to win by one stroke on eight-under par 280 with what he admitted was “probably” the best 78 of his career.

"I can't believe I came back to win," said Hill, who made a 35-footer at the 17th before chipping dead from a downslope in a swale just over the back of the 18th.

"I thought I threw it away after 12 and 13 but knew I had a small chance by keeping an eye on the leaderboard. I'm just happy to get over the line."

Royal Dublin's Max Kennedy joined Hill and O'Neill in the lead on six-under playing the last.

But as Hill made a 35 footer with 10 feet of break to get to seven-under, Kennedy birdied the 18th for a 66 and playing partner Brandon St John eagled it from eight feet for a 68 to make it a three-way tie for the lead.

"I knew that Max was on six and was probably going to birdie the last so I knew even going to 18 that I needed to birdie it," Hill said.

"Then Brandon making eagle really threw him into the mix so I had to get it done, you don't really want to go into a three-man playoff."

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Hill hit a massive 340-yard drive downwind at the 18th and with just 168 yards remaining, adrenaline kicked in and his nine-iron sailed through the green on the left.

Faced with a tricky third from a downslope, he hit a sensational chip that checked and ran down to just six inches from where he tapped in for birdie and glory.

"I hit probably one of the best chips I've hit in a while," Hill said. "At least I know when I get down to the end of it I have it in me."

Now that he's joined the greats as a winner in Mullingar, he wants to go on and match their exploits in the professional ranks as he plans to take a gap year for the next 12 months before taking up a golf scholarship at the University of South Alabama.

"It's nice to put your name beside all them, definitely, especially when you are trying to follow in their footsteps and turn pro and win majors and stuff,” he said of past winners Clarke, McIlroy, Harrington and Lowry and Ryder Cup stars Paul McGinley and Philip Walton.

"It's probably the first time I have ever been happy to shoot 78.”

Mullingar Scratch Trophy sponsored by Sherry Fitzgerald Davitt & Davitt and Pinergy, Mullingar GC (Par 72)

Final:

280 J Hill (Galgorm Castle) 66 70 66 78;

281 M Kennedy (Royal Dublin) 74 66 75 66, B St. John (Portmarnock) 73 67 73 68;

282 L O'Neill (Connemara) 70 69 68 75;

284 P Conroy (Enniscorthy) 73 69 74 68, R Latimer (Clandeboye) 69 74 66 75;

285 L Abom (Edmondstown) 72 71 71 71, J Rackard (Enniscorthy) 69 72 70 74;

286 J Hewitt (Tandragee) 73 69 74 70, T Ford (Co. Sligo) 70 71 70 75, R Cannon (Balbriggan) 66 77 69 74;

287 A Fahy (Bray) 71 68 74 74, W Small (Tandragee) 71 68 74 74, R Griffin (Ballybofey & Stranorlar) 69 72 73 73;

288 T Higgins (Roscommon) 75 70 73 70, T Dowdall (Woodbrook) 72 73 74 69, J Doherty (Carton House) 69 74 69 76;

289 D Kitt (Athenry) 75 70 72 72, S Desmond (Monkstown) 72 72 71 74, C Harkin (Letterkenny) 69 73 72 75, Q Carew (Castleknock) 68 73 72 76, R Milne (Faithlegg) 68 71 77 73;

290 A Hill (Roscommon) 72 69 76 73, D Morgan (Carton House) 71 76 72 71, G Dunne (Co. Louth) 71 70 73 76;

291 P McGrath (Galway Bay) 74 72 72 73, J McCabe (Roganstown) 74 70 72 75, A Grant (Dundalk) 73 74 73 71, A Smith (Mullingar) 70 75 74 72, J Mc Donnell (Forrest Little) 70 72 75 74;

292 E Sullivan (Carton House) 72 72 74 74, D Flynn (Carton House) 69 74 71 78;

293 D O'Riordan (Fermoy) 74 72 74 73, S Carroll (Ballybunion) 73 70 72 78, H Gillivan (Westport) 68 68 75 82;

294 J Butler (Killeen) 74 71 75 74, C Butler (Kinsale) 71 72 77 74;

295 S O'Brien (Nenagh) 73 73 75 74, J McCarthy (Grange) 72 72 74 77;

296 M O'Sullivan (Ballyneety) 76 72 74 74, M Boucher (Carton House) 76 72 73 75, C Hickey (Dooks) 76 71 73 76, J Whelan (Grange) 76 70 71 79, R Abernethy (Dun Laoghaire) 76 69 76 75, S O'Connell (Athenry) 74 74 76 72, D Muldowney (Carton House) 73 70 76 77, D Reddan Jnr (Nenagh) 71 76 70 79;

297 S Cunningham (Esker Hills) 72 72 74 79;

298 I O'Connell (Castleknock) 70 71 80 77;

300 A Kiernan (Forrest Little) 72 72 74 82;

RTD 146 P O'Hanlon (Carton House) 74 72.


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