Smith savours home comforts but Humphreys too good at Baltray

Lily May Humphreys (England) winner of the 2019 Irish Women's Open Strokeplay at Co Louth Golf Club (12/05/2019). Picture by Pat Cashman

Home favourite, Deirdre Smith grabbed fifth place but there was no stopping England’s Lily May Humphreys who captured the Irish Women’s Open Stroke Play Championship by six strokes at County Louth.

The Essex teenager secured her second title in just seven days after winning the Welsh Women’s Open Stroke Play at Royal St. David’s. Just 12 months ago, the same feat was achieved by Scotland’s Hannah McCook and not to be outdone, Humphreys, who started the day with a three stroke lead, ground out a one-under par 73 to claim an emphatic victory at 10-under par.

“Wow, well this is pretty cool!” was the immediate reaction of an ecstatic and deserving winner. “It’s nice to get another win, two in a row – it doesn’t seem that long ago since I last won!”

“The aim today was to try and just make my pars and take opportunities for birdies when they came – I knew the opportunities weren’t going to be many given the wind so it was about not giving shots away. I did a pretty good job of that on the front nine – I hit three greens and was only one over par so I was quite impressed with myself. I hit eight greens on the back nine which helped settle me and it was a lot less stressful coming in.”

Holland’s Romy Meekers took second spot for the second consecutive year ahead of Scotland’s Hazel MacGarvie, however it was all about Humphreys who’s already looking towards LPGA Tour school once she gets her A levels out of the way.

“I’ve been home schooled and next year I have my A-levels,” she added. “After that I’m hoping to turn professional and I want to go to LPGA Q-School but I am going to go to LET Q-School this year to get the experience. Hopefully I’ll secure some LET invites then to get more experience and move me up a level so I am ready to turn then.”

As for local favourite Smith, although Humphreys ensured victory was always out of reach, there was enough excitement to be extracted from the large crowds who willed the Baltray member on to feel proud after finishing the week as only one of five players under par at minus-one.

“The support I’ve gotten from Baltray is always 100% and I’m very proud to be a member of this club and I hope they’re proud of me,” said Smith, who finished best of the Irish players, not that it provided any significant motivation.

“I don’t go out there thinking I want to finish best of the Irish or anything, I want to go out and play the best I can play and if it goes well then so be it. I’m still enjoying playing golf, I’m still enjoying being competitive and if I wasn’t enjoying it, I wouldn’t be doing it.

“At the end of the day I go out there because I enjoy myself, I’m not trying to prove anything, I’m not thinking about scores, I’m only thinking about enjoying it and I really enjoyed the challenge today to be honest.”

For Smith, a long amateur career continues to flourish despite, in her own words, “being around for 100 years!”

“Just keep enjoying it, if you do that you’ll have longevity but if you’re putting pressure on yourself and you’re trying to score, that’s short term, because if you don’t meet those expectations you end up giving up. If you go out to enjoy yourself, focus on what the sport offers you, the friendships, the fun, the exercise, the fresh air and the courses – you’re a winner every time.”

Lisburn’s Paula Grant returned a one-under par 75 to sneak a top-10 finish in a share of 8th at plus-three while Lahinch’s Aine Donegan and Ballinrobe’s Shannon Burke were a shot further back in a tie for 10th.

Full Scoring HERE