Jessica Ross looks to go back-to-back

Irish Golfer

Jessica Ross is looking for another home town success in Clandeboye. Photo: Fran Caffrey / Golffile.

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Local hopes are high as Clandeboye golfer and defending champion Jessica Ross prepares to tee it up at the Ulster Women’s Stroke Play Open Championship on Monday May 27th.

The Women’s and Men’s events see 88 players take on the Dunferrin Championship course, where 54 holes will decide this year’s winners over two days.

Ross was a comfortable winner in 2023 carding rounds of 73, 66 and 71 last May on her way to a ten-shot victory.

“Last year at Clandeboye we had great weather and a great run event,” said Ross.

“Looking back on it, I just played solid golf hitting lots of greens and didn’t think too much about any outcome. Just went out and enjoyed myself.”

Ross gets her first round underway at 9.10am alongside Woodbrook and Cork Scratch Cup winner Mairead Martin (Kanturk) and Royal County Down Scratch Cup winning teenager Anna Abom (Edmondstown).

Following such a strong performance last year the Clandeboye golfer is hoping home support and local knowledge will help her get over the line one more time.

“It’s a Bank Holiday on the Monday so my parents will get to see me play. Last year there were members out supporting too, so hopefully it’s the same this year,” said Ross.

“You can always argue there is home advantage to any golf course but you still have to hit the shot. If someone plays better than you, then they will win.”

Another of the top female contenders making the trip is current Carlow and Lahinch Scratch Cup holder Aideen Walsh (Lahinch). Walsh’s wins have helped see her sit top of the Women’s Bridgestone Order of Merit, 19 points clear of fellow competitor Abom.

The men’s field will also see a strong contingent take part with 2023 Men’s Bridgestone Order of Merit winner David Shiel (Enniscrone) and current Munster Men’s Strokeplay champion Paul Coughlan (Castleknock) aiming for the title.

Meanwhile, Ross knows what it takes to win on the Down course but ideas of retention have not yet come into her thoughts.

“I don’t really think about it too much. I am just going to play each shot as it comes and worry about that after the 54th hole”.

The Ulster Men’s and Women’s Stroke Play Open Championships get underway at 7.00am on Monday with Molly O’Hara (Clandeboye), Laura Webb (Royal Portrush) and Clodagh Coughlan (Douglas) opening proceedings for the women. The men begin their first round with Adam Buchanan (Royal Portrush), Harry O’Hara (Clandeboye) and Oscar Murphy (Royal Portrush) teeing off at 7.30am.

View the tee times here

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