Headfort’s Rory McNamara staked his claim for a recall to the Irish team when came back from one down with two to play and birdied the last two holes to beat Knock’s Michael Sinclair one up in a thrilling North of Ireland Amateur Open final at Royal Portrush.
Having won the last three holes in the morning semi-finals to see off Portmarnock’s Geoff Lenehan by two holes, McNamara looked in trouble when he fell three down to 1997 champion Sinclair at the turn.
But 40-year old Sinclair, who was also the East of Ireland champion in 2003, lost the 10th, 12th and 13th to see his lead disappear before going one up again with a winning par three at the signature 14th.
However McNamara was not to be denied his maiden senior title and after holing a 10 footer for birdie at the par-five 17th to square the match, he finished in style by sinking a 30 footer for birdie and victory at the 18th where he had two putts for the title after Sinclair had bunkered his tee shot and faced a six footer for bogey.
Sinclair cruised into the decider thanks to a facile 6 and 5 win over Galway Golf Club’s Eddie McCormack, who got off to a horrific start and never recovered.
Final Rory McNamara (Headfort) bt Michael Sinclair (Knock) 1 up
Semi-finals Michael Sinclair (Knock) bt Eddie McCormack (Galway) 6/5; Rory McNamara (Headfort) bt Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) 2 holes
The Ulster Branch provided the following shot-by-shot guide to the final, which was played in sunny conditions in front a healthy crowd.
- Hole 1 - par 4
Sinclair drives into left hand bunker from the tee, McNamara in middle of fairway. McNamara plays second shot to the front of the green, pin is at the back, Sinclair 12 feet to the right of the pin in two. McNamara two-putts for a four, Sinclair putts four feet past but holes return. Match All Square.
- Hole 2 - par 5
Sinclair on fairway from tee 220yards to green, McNamara on fairway 205 yards to Green. Sinclair 12ft right of pin in 2, McNamara also on the green in 2 but 25ft from pin. McNamara 6ft past the pin in 3. Sinclair just misses eagle putt but birdie in conceded. McNamara misses return put. Sinclair 1Up.
- Hole 3 - par 3
Sinclair’s tee shot is 15ft right of the pin, McNamara 10ft behind the pin. Sinclair leaves his putt short but his next shot is conceded for a three. McNamara misses putt on the upper side. Sinclair remains 1 up.
- Hole 4 - par 4
Sinclair’s drives down middle of fairway - 190 yards to Green, McNamara in light rough to the right of fairway - 175 yards to green. Sinclair on green in 2 - 25ft from pin, McNamara comes up just short of the Green in two. McNamara chips close to the pin and his next shot is conceded, Sinclair’s putt lips out and he remains 1 up
- Hole 5 - par 4
Both players on the fairway McNamara 109 yards to green, Sinclair 90 yards to green. McNamara ball rolls off the right hand side of the green 30ft from pin, Sinclair 25ft from pin with downhill lie. McNamara chips up about 12ft from pin, Sinclair putts to 4ft. McNamara misses putt, Sinclair also misses and remains 1 up
- Hole 6 - par 3
Sinclair 35ft from pin, McNamara 8ft from pin. Sinclair putts to 1ft and his third is given, McNamara also misses birdie putt and Sinclair remains 1 up
- Hole 7 - par 4
Sinclair drives down middle of fairway 140 yards from green, McNamara also on fairway 125 yards from green. Sinclair 8-10ft from pin, McNamara also on green 25ft from pin. McNamara holes from 25ft for birdie, Sinclair also holes his putt and remains 1 up
- Hole 8 - par 4
Sinclair drives down fairway 147 from pin, McNamara in semi rough 170 yards from green. McNamara’s short of the green in 2, Sinclair plays onto the green 25ft from pin. McNamara next shots finishes in the heavy rough at the back of the green. McNamara plays 2 more shots before conceding the hole. Sinclair 2 up
- Hole 9 - par 5
Sinclair 146 yards from green on fairway, McNamara tries to cut the corner but fails 170 yards from green in rough. McNamara thins shot which finishes on the the back of the green, Sinclair just off the green to the right in two. McNamara plays from off the back of the green to 7ft, Sinclair misses from off the green, next shot conceded. McNamara lips out for a 4 - Sinclair 3 Up
- Hole 10 - par 5
Sinclair hit the ball left into the heavy rough from the tee - 200 yards to green, McNamara hits drive into light rough adj to fairway - 162 to green. Sinclair takes a penalty drop for an unplayable lie - plays his third from 205 yards to just off the back of the green with the pin on the front, this will be a challenging shot. McNamara 15ft short of the green in 2, Sinclair chips to 10ft in 4, McNamara chips to 4ft. Sinclair misses putt and conceded McNamara’s next shot - Sinclair now 2 Up
- Hole 11 - par 3
McNamara on green 35ft from pin, Sinclair on back of green 40ft from pin which is front left. Sinclair leave his putt stone dead and is conceded for 3, McNamara putts 3/4 ft past the pin. McNamara holes his putt - Sinclair remains 2 Up
- Hole 12 - par 4
McNamara drives onto the fairway 112 yards from green, Sinclair also on fairway 128 yards from green. Sinclair on green 20ft from pin, McNamara plays a great shot and is 6ft from pin. Sinclair misses is putt but his next is conceded, McNamara holes his putt and Sinclair is now 1 Up
- Hole 13 - par 4
McNamara on fairway just past bunkers on right of fairway - 156 from green, Sinclair plays a provisional ball as his original ball is buried in the rough to the left of fairway - 162 from green. Sinclair finishes just short of the green as does McNamara. McNamara chips to 3ft in, Sinclair chips to 5ft and concedes McNamara’s next shot - Match All Square
- Hole 14 - par 3
McNamara hits his tee shot into rough just off the back of the green, Sinclair 10ft short of pin on green. McNamara has a really bad lie and is unable to extricate himself, he concedes Sinclair’s next putt - Sinclair 1 Up
- Hole 15 - par 4
Sinclair 25ft from pin just short of greenside bunker on left, McNamara on green 10ft from pin. Sinclair putts from off the green to 3ft, McNamara misses his eagle putt but his next is conceded. Sinclair holes his putt - Sinclair remains 1 Up
- Hole 16 - par 4
Sinclair drives to middle of fairway as does McNamara - both balls are 150 yards from green. Sinclair is pin high just off the green, McNamara is just short of the green 40ft from pin. Sinclair & McNamara both play chip shots to 12ft & 10ft respectively of the pin. McNamara holes his putt, Sinclair also holes his putt for a par 4 - Sinclair remains 1 Up
- Hole 17 - par 5
Sinclair in light rough 290 yards from green, McNamara on fairway 270 yards from green. Sinclair 60 yards from front of the green in two, McNamara just short of the green, between the two bunkers, also in two shots. Sinclair 15ft left of the pin, McNamara 8ft short of the pin. Sinclair misses his putt but his next is conceded, McNamara holds his putt for a birdie 4. Match All Square
- Hole 18 - par 4
McNamara his a drive down middle of fairway - 157 yards to green, Sinclair hits drive to right in bunker - 200 yards to green. Sinclair out of the bunker 125 yards from green - McNamara on the green 25ft from the pin. Sinclair in swale to the left of the green - 30ft from pin. Sinclair plays a chip as his 4th shot to 6ft - McNamara has 2 puts for the Championship. McNamara holes his putt for a birdie 3 to win the Championship 1 Up