Selfridge comes full circle with North triumph

Bobby Clark (Captain Royal Portrush), Chris Selfridge (2013 Winner), Andrew Spence (sponsor, Cathedral Eye Clinic) and Peter Sinclair (Chairman of Ulster Branch GUI). Selfridge is now halfway to the Irish amateur career Grand Slam with the West, the South and the Irish Amateur Open next on his hitlist. Moyola Park’s Chris Selfridge might have suffered 10 months of frustration but he will look back on the last 403 days with fondness after he added the North of Ireland title to wins in last year’s East of Ireland and Irish Amateur Close Championships.

The 21-year old University of Toledo student came through a fog disrupted week at Royal Portrush to beat West Waterford’s Gary Hurley, a 20 year old NUI Maynooth scholarship student, 2 and 1 in a final that was played a day later than planned following two long delays earlier in the championship.

“I’m delighted and relieved,” the champion told the News Letter after his second championship win at Royal Portrush in the space of 54 weeks (his Irish Close victory also came at the Dunluce Links last June.) “I really, really wanted to win.

“I knew I was playing good enough. It was all abut getting over that final hurdle. I won the Irish Close and the East of Ireland Championship last year, then I won a US college tournament in October but I’ve won nothing since then.

“That’s too long without a win. I have been playing consistently and had a lot of top 10s. The game has been good; it was just been about putting everything together.”

Coached by Johnny Foster and helped with his fitness by Irish Amateur Open champion Robbie Cannon through Cannon Core Fitness, Selfridge lost the first when he failed to get up and down for par from right of the green.

But his putting, which caught fire in Portrush thanks to the acquisition of a new weapon, proved to be crucial in the end.

After holing a 20 footer for a winning birdie at the fourth to square the match, Selfridge won the ninth in birdie to sneak ahead, lost the next to a four but then holed a 25 footer for birdie at the 12th to go one up again and was never caught.

A par save from 10 feet at the 14th, which Hurley matched from six feet, kept the momentum on his side and he soon found himself two up when he was conceded the 15th after his opponent took four to find the green.

Two up now with three to play, the 16th was halved in par and the 17th in birdie fours as Selfridge hit an 80 yard pitch to six inches and looked on as Hurley failed to chip in for eagle from right of the green and shook hands.

The Final of the Championship teed off at 7am to accommodate the members’ competition day. It was originally schedule for Friday, July 12 but was put back due to multiple delays for sea mist and fog.