Jack Hearn (Tramore) is the new ISPS Handa Ulster Men’s Stroke Play Champion while Lahinch’s Aideen Walsh defended her women’s title today at Belvoir Park.
The impressive player from Tramore began his third round with a one-shot lead over Robert Brazill (Naas) and went on to cement that lead with a stellar front nine consisting of 4 birdies and no dropped shots.
Brazill remained in contention at the start of the back 9, however a double bogey on 12 cost the Naas golfer dearly and despite a valiant effort with birdies on 15 and 16 but back-to-back bogies on the last two holes put an end to his title challenge.
Hearn remained calm over the closing holes only checking the leaderboard on the 17th tee to learn he had a two shot lead. A solid iron off the 18th tee removed all danger, and he finished his round with a tournament winning 67 (best score of the day) to compliment his opening rounds of 69 and 65 to claim the championship at 12-under-par.
Ross Latimer (Clandeboye) carded a 3-under-par 68 to climb three places on the leaderboard and take sole possession of third place behind Brazil.
While the conditions might have been different from last years’ event at Royal County Down the result in the Women’s category was never really in doubt.
Buoyed on from opening rounds of 69 and 72, a confident Walsh played solidly in the opening stages of the final round and was 1-under through six holes. A missed putt from short range on the 7th however brought her back to the chasing pack for a moment.
Those chasing were her playing partners Moly O’Hara and Kate Lanigan. O’Hara, from Clandeboye, began her round with two bogeys, and from there it was always going to be difficult to make up the required shots. She subsequently finished with a 78 and 3-over for the event.
Lanigan had her best tournament of the season thus far with a solid final round of 1-under to climb up the leaderboard. This, together with opening rounds of 74 and 73, saw the long hitter claim a second place finish.
Roscommon’s Olivia Costello came home in 34, aided by an excellent eagle on the treacherous uphill 17th, which saw her climb up the leaderboard and finish the event tied for 2nd on level par.
As it turned out, Walsh had the comfort of a 5 shot lead and held onto that over the closing holes for a championship winning total of 5-under.
Hearn, Walsh and Brazil will now all earn a place in the ISPS Handa World Invitational later this summer.
Other noticeable performances came from last years’ men’s winner Robert Moran. Aiming to achieve back-to-back Ulster titles the consistent Castle man returned a credible 69 to claim fourth place.
Also a special mention to Hannah Lee McNamara, the teenager from Foyle had to postpone her school exams until later in the week just to give herself time to prepare. A closing 73 saw her finish in tied 4th place alongside Killkenny’s Jan Browne