Campbell wins all-Ulster shoot-out to claim Irish Amateur Open title

Colm Campbell won the Irish Amateur Open for the second time with a play-off victory over Matthew McClean of Malone at The Island
Tony McGee

IT was an Ulster shootout at The Island as Colm Campbell of Warrenpoint won the Flogas Irish Men's Amateur Open championship once again after overcoming Malone's Matthew McClean in a sudden-death play-off at the first tie-hole.

Having started the day one shot back from overnight leader Robert Moran (Castle), Campbell took the lead early on when Moran made a costly double-bogey at the third hole.

In the group ahead, McClean was making a run and with an eagle three on the 10th hole he went to four-under par for his round. Another birdie on the 13th saw him take a three-shot advantage but a double bogey on 15 and a bogey on 17 brought him back to the field level with Campbell on one-over-par total.

Two significant par-putt saves by Campbell on 17 and 18 meant a play-off would be necessary to determine the 2022 titleholder.

Campbell won the coveted trophy before, in 2016 at Royal Dublin. At that time he was playing a full-time amateur golf schedule and was competing internationally, but things have changed in the six intervening years.

“Yeah, it's a bit of a different feeling to what it was in 2016. I was playing a full-time schedule back then, expectations were a little bit different,” said the 35-year-old.

“I knew I was playing well enough and I wasn't here to make up the numbers.”

Campbell had the honour on the play-off hole, hitting his tee-shot just into the left semi-rough. McClean pushed his drive to the right and unluckily had to take a drop from an unplayable lie.

“Matt caught a bad break which wasn't great for him but I just thought to myself, don't do anything stupid,” revealed the winner. “I wanted to give myself a chance to make par and worst-case scenario make five. I knew when he hit it into the bunker then he would have a tricky up and down but to be fair he hit a great shot. He's a great player and if he keeps knocking on the door his turn will happen”.

Celebrations were held back in Warrenpoint on Sunday night as Campbell's priorities are different these days.

“I've to go to work in the morning and play a Barton Shield match tomorrow night,” he explained, “but I'm delighted to get over the line again. There's still a little bit of golf in me yet. I'm a happy man.”

With Campbell and McClean taking gold and silver honours, Moran and Marc Boucher (Carton House) finished third and fourth respectively.

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