Sara Byrne claimed her second AIG Irish Women’s Amateur Close Championship after an exciting final day of action at Connemara Golf Links.
Byrne defeated defending champion Beth Coulter in a thrilling repeat of last year’s final, with today’s match going down to the wire, as Coulter three-putted on eighteen meaning Byrne won the title and avenged her 2022 loss.
Speaking afterwards, Douglas’ Byrne, who defeated Libby Fleming 3&2 in her semi-final this morning, could not hide her delight at winning.
“Absolutely over the moon, like absolutely delighted. Me and Beth had a great match out there, over and back the whole time, some great golf played. I had five birdies today, I was hoping for six but got five under the bag anyways.”
Winning for a second time is an amazing achievement by the 2018 Close Champion, made that little more enjoyable as she at last got a victory over Coulter when it mattered most.
“Yeah it’s a bit surreal, I’m a bit lost for words at the minute. But honestly just absolutely over the moon, finally got it done. This is my fourth time playing Beth in a final so, first time getting over the line”
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Leading Qualifier and Leitrim Cup winner Byrne is hopeful that this win will be the platform for more success in the weeks and months to come.
“I’ve a busy season coming up, so this is just the start of it, so hopefully it’ll give me a bit of momentum going into the next few weeks.”
Meanwhile Kirkistown Castle’s Coulter came off the course dejected, understandably, but paid tribute to the new champion and demonstrated the respect that shone through between both players during the final.
“Yeah obviously really really disappointed, and it’s definitely a hard one to take. Three-putting from fifteen feet on the last is never good. My second shot was a really good shot in, just got a bit unlucky, it came up a little bit short. I was just in between clubs and it’s one of those things. Yeah, I’m really disappointed but Sara played great golf and she’s had a great season out in America. She’s playing great golf since she came home so I’m really happy for her, but obviously very hard to take.”
Whilst this defeat will be tough on Coulter, she remained upbeat about her game, having beaten close friend Aine Donegan 3&2 in their semi-final clash, and is noticing improvements along the way
“Yeah I’m playing pretty good, I’m happy to see like pretty good progressions in my game. My short game has got a lot better. I’m holing more putts, obviously maybe not the ones I need (laughs), but yeah I think, you know, even three-quarter shots, I hit some great ones out there today. On the Par 3’s I hit two to like a foot or two feet, which was really nice, put the pressure back on Sara. Yeah it’s been a great week, definitely need some rest now.”
In the Plate Final, Ballykisteen’s Caitlin Shippam defeated Royal Portrush’s Gemma McMeekin on the fourth playoff hole, after the pair couldn’t be split in regulation play, in another thrilling encounter that brought the curtain down on an amazing week of golf at Connemara Links.