Wednesday 16 October 2019

Vorster claims first senior win after mastering 'East' as caddies cash in


Martin Vorster with The d Hotel-sponsored East of Ireland Championship trophy after his victory at Baltray. Photo: Pat Cashman
Martin Vorster with The d Hotel-sponsored East of Ireland Championship trophy after his victory at Baltray. Photo: Pat Cashman

Brian Keogh

Martin Vorster gave the local caddies a boost when he became the second South African winner in a row and the second youngest in the history of the East of Ireland Championship following his four-shot win at County Louth.

At the age of 17 years, four months and 12 days, he was just seven days older than last year's champion Christo Lambrecht, who is a close friend.

A southerly wind gusting close to 50kmh proved no obstacle to Vorster (right), who closed with a brace of five-under 67s to win comfortably from 2016 champion Paul O'Hanlon (34) from Carton House on nine-under 279.

"It's an amazing feeling," said Vorster, who won last year's Junior Open at St Andrews.

"I have been close quite a bit the last few months so to finally push through, I have no words. It's a pretty amazing feeling. This is my first international senior win and it's a big one for me. Hopefully the first of many."

Vorster's win also went down well with the local caddies, who had spotted his talent in practice and piled their cash on him at odds of 20/1.

With organisers moving the field up to the white tees due to the weather forecast, he started the final day four strokes behind County Louth's Adam Doran on one-over-par but soon raced through the field.

He hit 17 greens in regulation in a bogey-free, five-under 67 to lead by a shot at lunch from O'Hanlon, who shot 70, on four-under par.

He then kept his foot down and went out in two-under 35 by following birdies at the first two with a bogey at the fifth and a chip and putt birdie from greenside rough at the downwind eighth.

O'Hanlon turned in level-par but while he birdied the 10th and 11th to get within one stroke of the eventual winner, he could only par his way home from there.

Vorster got up and down for birdie from rough right of the 14th for birdie to go two ahead, before doubling his advantage with a birdie-birdie finish. After rifling a six-iron to a foot at the 180-yard 17th, he chipped to three feet for a closing birdie four at the 18th.

"I think that was the best six-iron of my life," Vorster said of his shot to the 17th.

Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell closed with a 68 that featured an eagle two at the 332-yard 14th to finish third, six strokes behind on three-under.

In Sectional Qualifying for next week's US Open at Walton Heath, Michael Hoey shot rounds of 72 and 71 to miss out as South African Dean Burmester followed a 63 with a 65 to head the 14 qualifiers by four shots on his 30th birthday from England's Sam Horsfield on 16-under.

Marcus Fraser, Clément Sordet, Marcus Kinhult, Matthieu Pavon, Lee Slattery, Thomas Pieters, Merrick Bremner and New Zealand amateur Daniel Hillier also qualified before Italy's Renato Paratore came through a five-man playoff for the last spot.

Paratore defeated Bernd Wiesberger with a birdie on the second extra hole, while Nacho Elvira earned the second alternate spot by defeating Andrea Pavan and Romain Wattel with a birdie at the second extra hole.

Tiger Woods feels his closing 67 at the Memorial Tournament has set him up nicely for the US Open.

The 15-time Major champion sunk seven birdies in his first 12 holes, but his charge slowed down with bogeys on the 14th and final holes to finish tied ninth on nine-under - 10 shots behind winner Patrick Cantlay.

Elsewhere, Olivia Mehaffey has been forced to withdraw from the Great Britain and Ireland Vagliano Trophy team after breaking a bone in her wrist. She was initially named yesterday in the six-strong squad with Forrest Little's Julie McCarthy and her replacement will be known after next week's Ladies' British Amateur at Royal County Down.

Kirkistown Castle's Beth Coulter was named in the Junior Vagliano Trophy team with both matches at Royal St George's from June 28-29.

Irish Independent

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