Joe Dillon celebrated his 23rd birthday in style by cruising to victory in the Irish PGA Assistants Championship at Nuremore Hotel and Country Club.
The Headfort GC assistant went into today's final 36-holes with a three shot lead and managed to extend his advantage, finishing the event five shots ahead of Iarlaith Keane (Balcarrick GC) and Ciaran McKenna (Mallow GC).
“It means a lot for me to win this title and get my name on the trophy alongside both Brendan McGovern and Damien McGrane,” said Dillon who turned 23 yesterday.
“They both look out for me and Damien was very good and helped sort out a pro-am team so I could get an extra practice round in.”
Dillon's only real wobble at the Monaghan venue came in yesterday's final round when he went to the turn in four over 39 but he steadied the ship on the back nine, coming home in level par 36 to finish with a 75.
“I was aware that a lot of the other lads were making mistakes as well so I didn't panic. The front nine is pretty tight at the Nuremore and I felt that anything around three/four over would be good enough,” added the Kells man who finished tied for sixth in this event last year.
“You kind of learn with experience what a winning score will be and with it being windy all day I knew I just had to be careful and not make big mistakes.”
His nearest challengers after the opening day, Keith Shannon, Chris Carvill and Matthew Dunmore all lost ground after the third round and failed to mount a challenge.
Keane grabbed the opportunity to move into second with a two under par 68 in round three, the best round of the day, but he was still five shots behind the leader and failed to close the gap over the final 18 holes, carding a four over 75.
Irish PGA Assistants Championship, Nuremore Hotel and Country Club (Par 71)
1 J Dillon (Headfort GC) +4
T2 J Keane (Balcarrick GC); C McKenna (Mallow GC) +9
T4 B McCormack (Edenderry Golf Academy); D Barry (Douglas GC) +10
T6 S Quinlan; M Dunmore (Bundoran GC) +11
T8 M Murphy (Rosslare GC); C Boggan (County Meath GC); C Carvill (Belvoir Park GC) +12