Ronan Mullarney of Maynooth University triumphed at the Fife Student Open after a three-man play-off at St Andrews.
Maynooth University may have been the only Irish representative amongst the colleges at this year’s Fife Student Open in Fairmont, St. Andrews but they sure made good use of their trip to the BUCS event, taking home both the men’s team title along with Mullarney’s individual win.
The Kittocks course within the complex, was set-up to really challenge the competitors last week. Having played the tournament, I must admit I would not like to have a small lead turning onto the 14th because of the extremely tough finishing holes the course presents. The first day did not have many admirable scores, which was understandable due to the 30-40kmh winds that swept over the layout.
Surviving day one was key to staying in contention as conditions calmed on day two. Teammates, Ronan Mullarney and Cathal Butler, eased their way into the tournament and found themselves in a tie for second, four shots behind leader, Robert Foley (Stirling), before the third round.
Unfortunately, the treacherous conditions returned for the final round but it made that four-shot lead appear a little smaller than usual.
Butler got off to a great start but ran into difficulty on the tough par 4, 7th leading to an untimely 8 that narrowed his chances for the title. Foley also ran into some trouble during the final round, which is easily done on the ruthless links course.
Mullarney remained quietly confident throughout the round and took a two shot lead heading into the back 9.
By the time the final three ball reached the 18th, Mullarney was tied for the lead with Exeter’s, Monty Scowsill who sat in the clubhouse. His four-shot lead may have disappeared but Foley managed to earn a spot in the play-off after birding the last hole.
Mullarney hit a sensational mid-iron into 10ft on the long par 4 18th but failed to take advantage which resulted in a three-way tie at the top.
A sudden death play-off determined the winner, but it took three extra holes to find the champion. All three players managed to birdie the gettable first hole, returning back to the tee for a second time. Foley failed to make a birdie the second asking and was the first to be eliminated.
The 14th was selected for the last sudden death hole which Mullarney and Scowsill went on to play. Mullarney hit the middle of the fairway, but unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for Scowsill who had a big miss left into heavy rough. It opened the door for the Connacht player to hit the green in two, making a regulation par to claim the title.
The Girls’ tournament was a little less tense, with Chloe Goadby winning by five shots on a +8 total. Her nearest competitors were, Lieve Van Veggel (St. Andrews), Jennifer Saxton (Stirling) and Kirsten Brown (St. Andrews), who finished on a three-way tied for second place. Maynooth’s, Clodagh Walsh, finished the best of the Irish girls taking home 5th place on a +14 total.