Lyons is king at last

By Brian Keogh

Galway's Joe Lyons produced a sensational putting performance to win the Radisson-SAS West of Ireland title at Rosses Point.

The 34-year-old from Banagher in Co Offaly holed a series of incredible putts to stay alive against Portstewart's Paul Cutler before draining a six footer for a winning birdie at the 18th for a one-hole victory.

Lyons beamed: "I started 6-6-5 in the qualifying last Friday and I was walking to the fourth tee on four over par thinking, 'What am I doing here?' To shoot 72 after that was the best achievement of the week.

"Winning the Senior Cup with Galway last year was brilliant and I put this on a par with that. It is nice to win something individual. It's special, I have to say."

Under par in each of his six matches, Lyons closed out a 2 and 1 semi-final win over leading qualifier Simon Ward of Co Louth with a 40 footer at the 17th.

And he produced more of the same in the final against Cutler, who had dumped out favourite and two time champion Rory McIlroy in Monday's quarter-finals.

The Portstewart man maintained that form as he beat Strandhill's Tommy McGowan with a par at the 20th in a highly entertaining morning semi-final.

Four down after nine holes, the 18-year-old student won the 11th in par and birdied the 13th, 14th and 15th from long range before chipping in from 25 yards for another birdie at the 17th to go one up.

McGowan birdied the 18th from 15 feet to force extra holes but a bogey at the 20th, where he overshot the green in two, ended his bid to become the first Sligo winner of the title since Cecil Ewing in 1950.

However, Cutler had no answer to Lyons' brilliance with the blade in a final that was watched by over 500 fans - including former Republic of Ireland boss Jackie Charlton.

Lyons went two up after five and while he bogeyed the sixth and doubled the seventh to be pegged back to all square, he holed a 30 footer at the ninth to go one up.

The former Birr player three putted the 13th to go back to all square again but that wake up call spurred him on a superb putting performance over the last five holes that Cutler failed to match.

The first warning sign came at the 14th, where Culter holed a 45 footer for birdie but was followed in by Lyons from 12 feet.

With his wife Vera on the bag, Lyons then holed par putts of between 10 and 25 for halves at the 15th and 16th and escaped with a half in bogey at the 17th, where Cutler missed a tricky five footer.

All square playing the last, Cutler gave his 20 footer a run at the hole but missed and looked on as Lyons drained that six footer for his first major victory.

J Lyons (Galway) bt S Ward (Co Louth) 2/1;
P Cutler (Portstewart) bt t McGowan (Co Sligo) 20th.

Final: J Lyons bt P Cutler 1 hole.